Wal-Mart has agreed to improve employee safety conditions at all 2,857 of its retail and Sam’s Club stores that are under federal jurisdiction. The settlement is in connection with inspections conducted two years ago.
The retailer will improve safety and health practices and training related to trash compactors, cleaning chemicals and hazard communication.
Regarding trash compactors:
- No employee or manager may enter or place any part of their body into a trash compactor or a compactor chute.
- Each compactor will be equipped with an interlock that will allow it to operate only while the compactor chute door is closed.
- Trash compactors will be operated only in the presence and under the supervision of managers who have been trained in their safe operation.
- Employees or managers may attempt to clear jams in compactor chutes only while the compactor is not operating and the interlock is fully functional.
- Wal-Mart will use outside contractors to implement a lockout/tagout program to handle more difficult compactor jams.
- New warning signs will be placed on compactor chute doors.
- Wal-Mart will train or retrain all employees and managers who use or supervise the use of compactors. For new employees, training will be verified through testing.
- An outline of revised trash compactor training will be sent to OSHA’s Director of Enforcement Programs.
Regarding hazard communication and hazardous chemicals:
- The location of all Safety Data Sheets for all hazardous chemicals used at the worksites will be improved to assure they are readily accessible in each employee’s work area, via the Wal-mart intranet.
- Wal-Mart will provide revised training regarding hazardous chemicals and hazard communication for all employees and their managers who access chemicals.
- An outline of Wal-Mart’s revised hazard communication training will be submitted to OSHA’s Director of Enforcement Programs.
- If for any reason, employees or managers handle undiluted cleaning chemicals, they will be provided with appropriate personal protective equipment.
In addition, Wal-Mart will arrange, at its cost, for independent third-party monitoring of covered worksites to assess compliance with abatement requirements. At least 80% of covered worksites will be audited every four months. The findings and reports produced through the third-party monitoring will be made available to OSHA.
What about stores outside of federal jurisdiction — those in so-called state-plan states? While the states aren’t required to do so, federal OSHA recommends their state workplace safety agencies adopt provisions of this agreement.
This settlement followed citations from two inspections conducted at the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Rochester, NY: a safety inspection on Aug. 2, 2011, and a health inspection on Aug. 17, 2011.
For the corporate-wide settlement, the two sides have affirmed these citations, for a total penalty of $190,000:
- one repeat for lockout/tagout
- two serious for lockout/tagout
- two serious for confined space
- one serious for machine guarding
- two serious for personal protective equipment, and
- two serious for hazard communication.