For business owners, employee safety should be a top priority. Without able employees to operate your business, there will be problems running the day-to-day operations and it also opens the door for liability issues.
In other words, it’s in a company’s best interest to take care of their employees from the get-go.
This is a lesson that Target Corp. is learning the hard way.
Target settles worker safety lawsuit with OSHA
In 2019, a lawsuit was filed against Target by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Between May and December 2019, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited 8 stores in New England with safety violations, including blocked or obstructed access to emergency exits and fire exit routes, as well as unsafe storage practices in the stock areas. Target stores in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut were included in the citations.
“Obstructed emergency exit access impedes employees’ ability to exit swiftly in the event of a fire or other emergency and unsafe storage of materials exposes employees to crushing and struck-by hazards. Employers are responsible for supplying their employees with safe and healthful workplaces,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Galen Blanton in Boston.
As part of the settlement, Target must now pay a fine of $464,750 and correct the exit hazards and safety issues in 200 of its stores over the next 2 years.
Target also announced that they are expanding their safety program to include the following measures:
- Authorize store management to delay incoming delivery of inventory, if needed, to ensure safe egress conditions;
- Authorize store management to requisition additional storage capacity, such as storage trailer or offsite storage space, if needed, to ensure safe egress conditions;
- Conduct surveillance camera monitoring of egress conditions at select “high-risk” stores;
- Have outside managers visit each store at least twice per year to monitor egress safety and address any problems;
- Arrange unannounced third-party audits of egress safety at each store at least once each year, with a second audit the next quarter if a store fails the initial audit;
- Retrain all affected employees on issues covered by the settlement; and
- Permit OSHA access to the stores to verify compliance with the settlement agreement and determine if cited conditions were addressed.
“Under this agreement, Target Corporation is taking steps to proactively address and prevent two of the major safety hazards in the retail industry and maintain safe working conditions for its employees,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Richard Mendelson.
Safety in big-box stores like Walmart, Target
While exit access and storage safety are important issues, this is not where workers’ safety ends. There are any number of injuries that can occur while working, including (but not limited to):
- Back and neck injury
- Carpal tunnel
- Shoulder strain from lifting boxes
- Slip and fall
- Commercial truck accident
Big stores like Target and Walmart seem to have endless resources, especially when it comes to filing a workers’ compensation claim. They have more money to afford the best insurance companies and legal counsel, which is why an injured worker acting alone is unlikely to win a suit.
If you’ve been hurt on the job while working for one of these companies, it’s critical to employ the services of an experienced workers’ comp attorney. Seek medical attention immediately, and then reach out to Gerber & Holder Workers’ Compensation Attorneys.