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Big Lots faces fine after boxes crash on employee

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Big Lots Stores Inc. is facing another fine from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration after an employee was injured at a Massachusetts store.

The agency proposed a $66,000 fine in early October against the Columbus, Ohio-based retailer for two repeat violations after an assistant manager at its Danvers, Massachusetts store was hospitalized when boxes of patio furniture fell and struck him. OSHA determined that boxes were stacked high and in an unstable condition throughout the storeroom, according to the citations. In addition, the storeroom's aisles were clogged by boxes of stock, broken wooden pallets, plastic wrap, packing materials and pieces of cardboard, according to the citations.

“Unsafely stacked stock resulted in serious and avoidable injuries for this Big Lots employee,” Anthony Covello, OSHA's acting area director in Andover, Massachusetts, said in a statement last week. “For the safety and well-being of all its employees, Big Lots must promptly and effectively address these hazards at all its locations to prevent future injuries.”

The agency has previously cited the retailer for similar hazards in other states, it said. In 2013, an OSHA inspection at Big Lots' West Babylon, New York store led to proposed fines totaling $169,000 for repeated violations related to obstructed exit routes and aisles and improperly stacked boxes and serious violations for, among other issues, a lack of portable fire extinguisher training.

A spokesman for Big Lots could not be immediately reached for comment.