After federal safety inspectors found four emergency doors locked in a Conway store in the Bronx in December, its parent company Southern Island Stores LLC has been fined $80,300 by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The Gardena, Calif.-based company that does business as Fallas and Conway among others has until the close of business on June 2 to comply, to meet with OSHA’s area director or to contest the findings.
During a December 5 visit to the store at 2952 Third Avenue, inspectors first found the four emergency exit doors locked with metal bars. They also identified two exit routes with no lighting and one exit route blocked by a wooden cabinet. At that time, store managers were advised to correct the violations. But when inspectors returned on Dec. 22, the four emergency exits were still locked, according to the Department of Labor.
When asked about the pending violation on the phone Tuesday, a store manager who declined to identify himself at the Third Avenue location, which now operates as a Fallas store, questioned the six-month time span between the inspection and the citation. He then declined to comment.
OSHA’s Tarrytown area director Diana Cortez said,“The point is simple and the requirement is clear. In an emergency, no one has time to find and unlock an emergency exit. Seconds wasted can hurt people or cost them their lives. Conway Stores chose to ignore the safety and well-being of its employees and customers. This is not the first time. It must be the last.”
Cortez was referring to another OSHA citation in 2011 that was issued to Conway for the same hazard at another Bronx location store at 215-223 Fordham Road. Federal workplace safety standards require that employees be able to open an exit route door from the inside without using keys or tools.
Southern Island Stores LLC has been cited for one serious and one willful violation for the locked exits, and three serious violations for the remaining hazards. Among these hazards was an ineffective extermination program, which exposed workers to rodents. Founded in 1942 and formerly based in New York City, Conway was a discount apparel chain with stores in New York, the South and the Midwest. In January 2014, Conway Stores, which once had a significant presence in Herald Square, was sold to National Stores LLC, which is now believed to be doing business as Southern Island Stores.