A California warehouse store safety bill is now in Gov. Gray Davis’ hands. According to the National Home Center News, the California State Assembly, by a vote of 55 to 8, has approved SB486, which sets standards to protect customers from falling merchandise in retail-warehouse stores. The state Senate has also approved amendments made by the Assembly, marking the second time the Senate has approved the bill. It is now in the hands of Gov.Gray Davis. The bill was written by the California State Firefighter’s Association, and requires that stores create safety zones where shoppers may not enter while merchandise is being moved by heavy machinery such as forklifts. In addition, by July 1, 2002, all retail warehouses must secure merchandise stored on shelves 12 feet or more above the sales floor. SB 486 also calls for retail warehouses to annually report customer injuries and deaths from falling merchandise to the state Department of Industrial Relations. Similar legislation filed in Massachusetts was bottled up into a study package, but advocates say passage of the California legislation could help topple the retail industry’s lobbying against the consumer protection measure in Massachusetts. “Shopping can be hazardous to your health. Falling appliances and construction materials injure thousands of shoppers at big-box stores annually,” said Sen. Jackie Speier, Senate sponsor of the bill. “SB486 is a common sense approach to shopper safety.” Last week, in a dramatic letter to Davis, Speier wrote, “The need for this bill is clear. Court documents have revealed that hundreds of customers are injured weekly at stores such as Home Depot, Wal-Mart, etc. The mother of a constituent of mine was crushed to death by falling lumber at a Home Depot in Los Angeles. The accident occurred when a forklift operator misjudged the placement of forks under a pallet, tipping the lumber onto the shopper.” The governor has until Oct. 14 to approve the bill.
For a copy of the California legislation or the Massachusetts bill, write to [email protected]