Our Chicago readers know that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has a big job to do. In addition to investigating workplace accidents which have already happened, OSHA works to develop safety rules and conducts inspections to make sure that those worker safety rules are being followed.
Recently it was reported that OSHA cited The Home Depot in Chicago for safety violations. Specifically, OSHA stated that the superstore was exposing workers to electrical hazards.
The citations came after an anonymous tip alerted OSHA to the fact that there were blocked electrical panels in stores. This is apparently a repeat offense.
OSHA reported that the following violations occurred:
- Failing to ensure that all service, feeder and branch circuits were marked to indicate their purpose
- Failing to ensure that the circuits’ disconnecting means and overcurrent devices were marked to indicate their purpose
- Failure to keep the space around electrical equipment free and clear
One of the main factors in the failure to mark circuits properly was the failure to mark the voltage. It is entirely possible that unmarked voltage could have led to an electrical shock or worse, to electrocution.
In addition to being required to fix the issues cited by OSHA, the superstore’s suggested fine is $69,300. In some cases a large company may choose to simply pay the fine and not make the safety changes.
That could be dangerous for the workers however, and could prove more costly to the employer. Should a worker suffer an electrical shock, the worker could collect workers’ compensation benefits. Should a worker be electrocuted, the surviving family members could collect death benefits.
The Home Depot was cited for the same or similar violations in 2009, 2010 and 2012.