As many North Carolina readers may be aware, Wal-mart is one of the top employers in the U.S. Recently, the company was fined $190,000 by the federal OSHA for workplace safety violations found at one store located outside our state. While there are no reports of injuries as a result of these violations, negligence of the employer may have dire consequences for workers. In this case, Wal-mart is making changes to improve employee safety at nearly 2,600 Wal-mart and Sam’s Club stores nationwide.
OSHA officials discovered during their 2011 inspection that a trash compactor was unlocked and not well secured, and that workers had not been trained to use it. The inspection also uncovered a lack of training on using hazardous chemicals. In addition, there were obstructions in the exit routes and a grinder was left unattended. The OSHA cited Wal-mart stores in other locations for similar violations between 2008 and 2010.
A spokesperson for Wal-mart stated that the violations at this store have now been corrected, and the company is implementing improved safety measures in their stores that fall under the federal OSHA’s jurisdiction. States that handle their own workplace inspections may make similar arrangements with Wal-mart to have safety measures improved. These safety measures include training on dangerous equipment and chemicals, as well as locking trash compactors when they aren’t being used.
Wal-mart’s efforts to increase worker safety will hopefully benefit the company’s North Carolina employees. At Wal-mart or any other workplace, if an employee is hurt due to the negligence of the employer, he or she may wish to discuss available benefits with someone who is knowledgeable about the workers’ compensation laws in our state. These benefits are designed to help workers compensate for lost wages and other financial hardships as they focus on getting back on their feet and returning to work.
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, “Wal-mart agrees to safety changes at nearly 2,900 stores,” Tom Tobin, Aug. 7, 2013