Wal-Mart Fined $190,000 for Health and Safety Violations at 2,857 Stores

Jessica Corbett

Wal-Mart has agreed to pay $190,000 in fines and improve safety conditions at 2,857 stores. The agreement was reached with the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which has found more than 100 health and safety violations at various Wal-Mart stores over the last five years. OSHA initiated discussions with the company after finding “repeat and serious” health and safety violations at a store in Rochester, N.Y. in 2011 and similar “unacceptable” violations at stores in nine other states, according the Guardian.Violations at the Rochester store, which is located at 2150 Chili Ave in the Gates Supercenter, included lack of training for handling hazardous cleaning materials, unlocked and unsecured trash compactors, lack of training with the compactors, and blocked exits.Randy Hargrove, a spokesperson for Wal-Mart, told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle that the violations at Gates have been corrected and  the specific safety violations at the Gates store have not been found at other Wal-Mart locations.Per the agreement, which initially suggested a $365,000 fine but was reduced as part of the settlement, improvements will be made to Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club locations in 28 states, which are under federal jurisdiction. The 22 states that have their own OSHA programs could negotiate similar deals.The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported: Under the settlement, Wal-Mart has agreed to lock compactors when they’re not in use. They can only be operated “under the supervision of a trained manager.” The company also agreed to improve its procedures regarding use of chemicals. Workers will not be required to handle “undiluted’’ cleaning chemicals. Furthermore, the company agreed to improve its training in the use of chemicals and dangerous equipment. Though the agreement legally applies only to 2,857 stores under federal OSHA supervision, [Wal-Mart spokesman Randy] Hargrove said it will be implemented in the 621 Sam’s Clubs and 4,069 Wal-Marts in the United States.

Jessica Corbett, a former In These Times intern, is a Maine-based staff writer at Common Dreams. Follow her on Twitter at @corbett_jessica.
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