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Safety citations against Home Depot upheld

Home Depot

The Home Depot Inc. must pay $12,000 for violating California safety standards, held an appellate court on Thursday.

In Home Depot USA Inc. v. California Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board, a three-judge panel of the California Court of Appeals in Riverside unanimously affirmed an administrative law judge’s ruling that the company failed to require its employees to wear appropriate footwear and ensure workers complied with industrial truck operation standards.

In October 2014, two Home Depot warehouse workers had an accident while driving vehicles called electric pallet jacks at Home Depot's Mira Loma, California, distribution warehouse. One worker said the other turned the pallet jack too quickly, causing her to drop her foot from the machine. It became caught between two jacks, and she sustained an injury.

A California Division of Occupational Safety and Health inspector investigated the incident and reported that the employees were not wearing steel-toed footwear or work boots, but most wore sneakers. The investigator cited Home Depot for failing to require employees to wear appropriate foot protection and ensuring employees comply with safe operation standards for industrial trucks.

Cal/OSHA affirmed the citations totaling $12,375, finding that Home Depot’s prohibition on open-toed or open-heeled shoes did not adequately protect employees exposed to foot injuries when they lifted heavy loads or worked in close proximity to industrial trucks, and holding that Home Depot failed to establish that an employee caused the truck operating infraction.

Home Depot challenged the citations, and an administrative law judge of the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health Board affirmed them, holding that Home Depot did not require foot protection despite the fact that “conditions that created the hazards were open and visible to anyone."

Home Depot appealed, but the appellate court upheld the administrative judge’s decision. The court held that testimony about operations at the warehouse provided sufficient information to substantiate the board’s conclusion that employees were exposed to the risk of foot injuries and that Home Depot did not provide or require employees “to wear adequate footwear.”

Regarding the industrial truck operation citation, although Home Depot argued that the employee violated its safety standards by failing to keep a safe distance from other industrial trucks, the court held that the board correctly concluded that the evidence failed to support that the employee was aware that she was violating a safety practice at the time of the accident.



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