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Right Big OSHA Fines for Rite Aid

Numerous safety infractions, including the barring of an emergency exit door, have resulted in $92,000 in proposed fines against Rite Aid of New York Inc., located in the Bronx, New York.

OSHA cited the company, which operates a pharmacy/drugstore, for alleged willful, serious and repeat violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The company has until Feb. 21 to contest the citations.

According to Diana Cortez, OSHA's Area Director in Tarrytown, N.Y., the action results from an investigation conducted from Aug. 1, 2002 through Jan. 28, 2003, in response to a complaint about blocked exits and fire extinguishers. In stressing the severity of the alleged violations, Cortez noted, "Fire safety violations are always serious because of their potential to cost workers their lives."

As a result of OSHA's inspection, the company was cited for one alleged willful violation of a federal safety and health standard, which carries a proposed penalty of $55,000. The alleged willful violation includes the employer's practice of keeping an emergency exit door fastened with a metal bar during working hours.

The company was also cited for five alleged serious violations carrying proposed penalties totaling $12,000. These included the employer's failure to provide an unobstructed way of exit, provide unobstructed access to fire extinguishers, provide unobstructed access to electrical panels, maintain sufficiently wide access to exit, and provide training in fire extinguisher use to designated users.

Finally, the company was cited for two alleged repeat violations with proposed penalties totaling $25,000, including failure to post an exit sign where required and failure to provide annually required training on fire extinguishers.

A willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with an intentional disregard for, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations. A serious violation is cited for hazards that pose a substantial probability to cause death or serious physical harm. A repeat violation is issued when an employer was cited previously for a substantially similar condition and the citation has become a final order.

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