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• Walmart said yesterday that it has agreed to pay a $190,000 fine related to safety violations at a New York State store, and will make safety improvements at 2,857 Walmart and Sam's Club stores in 28 states that are supervised by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

USA Today writes that the agreement "stems from two 2011 inspections by the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration at the store in Gates, N.Y., that found serious hazards affecting Walmart workers ... The hazards included an unlocked and poorly secured trash compactor, an unguarded grinder, obstructed exit routes, an absence of training in the use of the compactor and a general lack of information and training regarding the use of hazardous chemicals."

There also had been previous safety problems found by OSHA "between 2008 and 2010 at workplaces in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, New York, North Dakota and Oklahoma."

States not supervised by OSHA now can negotiate their own settlements with Walmart.

Yahoo! Finance has a story suggesting that there are three reasons that Walmart could run into trouble as it continues to try to grow.

For one thing, its store are "decrepit," and the perception is that to cut costs the company has been less than vigilant about maintaining its fleet. Second, the Walmart model does not necessarily translate to many global environments, and questions about the company's labor practices (and allegations that it bribed its way to high growth in Mexico) could create opposition to its entry in many countries. Third, America's big cities continue to resist Bentonville's charms, with no sign that this is going to go away.

Reuters reports that Walmart may bid to acquire ParknShop, a Hong Kong supermarket chain owned by Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. The cost of such a purchase could be as much as $4 billion (US). Walmart now operates more than 380 stores in China, and said that it plans to open 100 more this year. However, Reuters notes that foreign retailers have had trouble managing growth in China, and a ParknShop acquisition could be seen as a boon to its plans.

Walmart has not commented on the report.
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