Author: Ashley Shaw, XpertHR Legal Editor
August 19, 2013
Wal-Mart and the US Department of Labor (DOL) entered into a written settlement agreement resolving multiple safety citations filed with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission against the mega-store conglomerate. The results of the agreement will be reflected in the 2,857 Wal-Marts and Sam's Clubs across the country that are under federal jurisdiction.
In addition to a $190,000 fine, Wal-Mart has agreed to implement several safety improvements that should better protect its employees. The settlement agreement covers a number of safety components.
- Safety training provided to employees will address the proper use of trash compactors.
- All trash compactors will be locked when not in use and will only be used under the supervision of a manager or an assigned monitor. The individual supervising the compactor's use must be trained in using the compactor and only that individual may unlock the unit.
- Nobody may put any part of his or her body into the trash compactor or put enough of his or her body into the chute of the trash compactor to risk a fall into the trash compactor.
- In the case of a jam, an employee should first use a tool long enough so that no part of the body has to go into the chute to try to clear the jam. If the tool does not work, the trained supervisor will contract with an outside company to fix the problem.
- All trash compactors should have a properly-maintained interlocking device that will keep the compactor from running with the door open.
- Hazardous chemical training will be provided to all necessary employees.
- Employees will use diluted cleaning solutions that they obtain from the Solutions Center's dispensing area.
- If undiluted chemicals in the Solution Center need to be mixed or handled, an employee will first be trained in the proper use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and he or she will use the necessary PPE.
- Employees will be told what to do in case of a problem at the Solution Center before a problem actually occurs.
- Material Safety Data Sheets for all hazardous chemicals will continue to be available to employees.
In addition, the trash compactor and hazardous chemical training will be offered in a "language, format and vocabulary" that is understandable to the employee.
Monitors unaffiliated with Wal-Mart or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will conduct periodic on-site audits to ensure compliance with the agreement. However, OSHA retains the right to make additional inspections if it deems them necessary.
Copies of the agreement will be posted in all affected stores.
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