DANVERS — Big Lots Stores is facing big fines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration after boxes of patio furniture, piled high in a stockroom, fell and injured an employee at the Danvers store last week.

The assistant manager was hospitalized on Oct. 2 after he was hit by falling boxes, some weighing up to 53 pounds each, the U.S. Department of Labor said.

Big Lots faces $66,000 in proposed penalties, which the chain can appeal.

“Every workplace — including a retail store — has potential hazards,” said Anthony Covello, the agency’s acting area director in Andover. “Unsafely stacked stock resulted in serious and avoidable injuries for this Big Lots employee.”

The agency, which oversees workplace safety, “found numerous boxes of stock were stacked high and in an unstable condition throughout the storeroom,” according to a statement from the Department of Labor.

The agency’s investigation also found the stockroom’s aisles were clogged by boxes, broken pallets, plastic wrap, packing materials and pieces of cardboard.

These kinds of conditions “exposed employees to fractures, broken bones, concussion, sprains and other injuries,” according to the agency. An employee might also be trapped and unable to get out in case of fire.

In 2014, the agency cited Big Lots for similar hazards at stores in New York and Georgia.

The company has 15 business days from the receipt of the citations on Oct. 6 to either comply or appeal to an independent OSHA review commission.

“For the safety and well-being of all its employees,” Covello said, “Big Lots must promptly and effectively address these hazards at all its locations to prevent future injuries.”

A call was placed Thursday afternoon to Big Lots headquarters in Ohio, but no one could be reached for comment.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at eforman@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.

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