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Home Depot Hazards Draw $150K Fine

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

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The world’s largest home-improvement retailer is in trouble—again—with federal health and safety authorities.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed $150,700 in fines against Home Depot Inc. in connection with eight safety violations, including seven repeat violations, at the company's store in Reynoldsburg, OH.

The citations echo multiple citations issued by OSHA at various Home Depot stores nationwide from 2010 to 2012.

Site Targeting

The inspection was initiated under OSHA's Site-Specific Targeting Program, which directs enforcement resources to workplaces where the highest rates of injuries and illnesses occur.

Home Depot
Photos: Home Depot Inc.

An OSHA official said Home Depot "continues to dismiss a culture of safety as a priority." The company said all but one violation had been addressed.

"By failing to correct previously cited deficiencies, Home Depot continues to dismiss a culture of safety as a priority," said Deborah Zubaty, OSHA's area director in Columbus.

"Employers who are cited for repeat violations demonstrate a lack of commitment to worker safety and health."

The Reynoldsburg store has a staff of 145.

Repeat, Serious Violations

OSHA issues repeat violations if an employer was previously cited for the same or a similar violation at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the past five years. According to OSHA records, the agency has inspected various Home Depot stores across the United States 144 times since 2008 and has issued citations on about half of those occasions.

The current citations consist of seven repeat and one serious violation.

The repeat violations allege, among other things:

  • Blocked exit routes (previously cited in 2009 at a Home Depot location in Hempstead, NY);
  • Failing to inspect flexible cords and then using cords with missing ground pins and damaged insulation (previously cited in Warwick, RI, in April 2013, and in Saint Peters, MO, in May 2013);
  • Failing to effectively close unused openings in electrical cabinets (cited in November 2010 in Houston, TX, and in February 2012 in Vineland, NJ);
  • Using flexible wiring in lieu of required fixed wiring (cited in Watertown, MA, in August 2010);
  • Failing to install plates on receptacles (cited in November 2011 in Mount Holly, NJ, and in January 2011 in Highlands Ranch, CO); and
  • Failing to review, sign and provide record-keeping documents to inspectors within four hours (previously cited in March 2012 in Edison, NJ).

One serious violation was cited for failing to bond and ground flammable, liquid storage containers during transfer to prevent accidental electrical discharge. A serious violation reflects substantial probability of death or serious injury from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Recent Citations, Fine

In April 2013, OSHA issued one repeat and one other-than-serious citation at the Reynoldsburg store for failing to include pertinent and specific information and report within seven days an incident on OSHA illness-and-injury log.

Home Depot

A spokesman said Home Depot was "extremely committed to the safety of our associates and customers." The Ohio store has been cited twice this year.

The company signed a settlement agreement for the citations and paid a penalty of $4,620.

Home Depot Corporate Communications Director Stephen Holmes said in an email Tuesday (Sept. 10) that the company was "extremely committed to the safety of our associates and customers, and addressed all of the safety questions almost immediately."

He added: "The only outstanding issue relates to an administrative question about how we filed our reports."

Founded in 1978, Atlanta-based Home Depot Based is the world's largest home improvement specialty retailer, with 2,258 retail stores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, 10 Canadian provinces and Mexico.

Fiscal year 2012 sales totaled $74.8 billion, and earnings totaled $4.5 billion.

The company had 15 business days from receipt of the citations to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


Tagged categories: Commercial contractors; Enforcement; Facility Managers; Health and safety; Maintenance + Renovation; OSHA; Workers

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