Forever 21 Under Investigation Over Safety Violations

As news of safety concerns continues to plague the retail industry, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is now urging Forever 21 to clean up its act. The trendy teen retailer was recently cited for exposing employees to safety hazards at its stores in Paramus, N.J. and Manhattan and ordered to pay $236,500 in penalties according to reports.

Forever 21's massive 90,000-square-foot Times Square location received citations for two repeat violations, including obstructed exit routes and fluorescent lights with no covers. An additional citation was issued because the store "was not kept clean and orderly." At the Paramus store, the retailer was fined for four repeat violations, including obstructed exit routes, an unmounted fire extinguisher that was not readily accessible, unsecured stored material and fluorescent lights that had no cover to prevent accidental contact or breakage.

"It is unacceptable for Forever 21 to continue repeating these violations, which are common among retailers, and put workers at serious risk," said Robert Kulick, New York regional administrator for OSHA, in a statement. "Retail managers have a legal responsibility to inspect their stores, identify potential hazards and quickly eliminate them to ensure worker safety and health."

The alleged violations follow similar citations in 2012 against Forever 21, which has 15 business days to respond to the latest allegations.

Forever 21 is the latest retailer to make headlines for safety concerns, following news of unsafe working conditions particularly in factories overseas. In November, Walmart (NYSE:WMT) said it identified concerns at several factories it does business with in Bangladesh and is actively pushing for improved conditions. In April, the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh killed 1,129 people, and another 112 people perished in a factory fire there in November. Both incidents have brought attention to the unsafe conditions in the industry, forcing retailers to commission additional inspections and lobby for heightened worker safety.

For more see:
-This Chain Store Age article
-This Crain's New York article

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