OSHA Fines Pa. Sears Store for Safety and Health Hazards

October 8, 2005

Exposing workers to 15-foot falls from powered industrial trucks has prompted the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue citations and propose penalties of $135,000 to the Sears store in Monaca, Pa. for violations of safety and health standards.

Two alleged willful violations, with penalties of $125,000, were cited by OSHA for allowing employees to ride on forks of powered industrial trucks on top of platforms which were not securely attached to the forks and had no guardrails and for not training operators using the fork trucks. Two serious violations, with a penalty of $10,000, were cited for failing to provide personal fall arrest systems to employees involved in loading and unloading materials and failure to equip the truck with an overhead guard to protect workers from falling object.

“The practice of lifting personnel up on the forks of a forklift and climbing onto storage shelves was common practice,” said Robert Szymanski, area director of the Pittsburgh OSHA office. “Management in the store was fully aware of OSHA standards but continued to allow untrained workers to perform these dangerous tasks.”

OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations. A serious violation is a condition where there is a substantial possibility that death or serious physical harm can result to an employee.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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