Abstract blur shopping mall and retail store interior

Dollar Tree, Family Dollar Agree to Pay $1.35 million in OSHA Fines

24 Aug, 2023 Liz Carey

Abstract blur shopping mall and retail store interior
                               

Chesapeake, VA (WorkersCompensation.com) – Chesapeake, Va.-based Dollar Tree Inc. and its subsidiary Family Dollar will pay a $1.35 million fine and make operational changes as part of its settlement with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the agency announced Wednesday.

Over the past 8 years, the company has been cited numerous times at stores across the country for a variety of safety violations like blocked exits, improper material storage, access to fire extinguishers and electrical panels, and improperly stacked merchandise and supplies. OSHA inspectors found more than 400 violations during inspections at more than 500 stores since 2017, and had proposed penalties in excess of $13 million.

As part of the agreement with OSHA, Dollar Tree has agreed to make operational changes within two years, and to correct any future hazards within 48 hours. The company will submit proof it has fixed those hazards to OSHA or face fines of up to $500,000.

Additionally, the company has agreed to pay $1.35 million in penalties to settle violations that were either contested or being inspected. The company will also maintain a 24-hour safety complaint hotline, and set up a system to address those complaints. Dollar Tree will meet with OSHA every three months to discuss its progress, the agency said.

“We know that every worker deserves to come home safe at the end of the workday,” Julie Su, acting U.S. Labor Secretary said in a statement. “Through our robust enforcement of workplace protections and use of innovative legal methods that resulted in this agreement, thousands of workers will have a healthier, safer and more certain future.”

“Our company is in the midst of a business transformation, and at the heart of it all is our continued focus on safety for our more than 200,000 associates,” Mike Creedon, chief operating officer at Dollar Tree, Inc., said in a statement. “We are implementing substantial safety policies, procedures, and training, all intended to safeguard the wellbeing of our associates. We appreciate the opportunity to engage with OSHA on our safety initiatives as we move forward, seeking to establish our position as a leading retailer in workplace safety.”

Previously, Dollar Tree Inc. entered into a settlement with OSHA in 2015. That agreement ended in 2018, OSHA said. Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda said the new agreement address steps the companies had already taken to address issues. The agency said it had confidence that the companies would make progress.

Dollar Tree saw sales of about $7.3 billion in the first quarter of 2023 and anticipates net sales of about $30 billion this years. With more than 16,000 stores in 48 states and five Canadian provinces, the company employs more than 190,000 people.

As part of the settlement, Dollar Tree will also form safety advisory groups using employees. The company will also enhance hazard identification and control programs, develop an audit program, create new employee training programs and hire additional safety professionals.

Over the past two years, OSHA has stepped up its inspections an oversight of discount chains Dollar Tree and Dollar General.

In 2022, OSHA added Dollar General to its Severe Violator Enforcement Program which allows the agency to increase inspections at the company’s stores given the company’s “indifferent to their legal obligations to provide a safe and healthy workplace.”

Over the past six years, OSHA has inspected more than 2040 Dollar General stores and found more than 300 violations resulting in nearly $21 million in proposed penalties – almost half of which came between Feb. 1, 2022 and April 20, 2023.

The stepped up enforcement and inspections of Dollar General stores come after years of complaints that the stores are cluttered and unsafe. Most of the inspections have come from complaints from customers and employees. Inspections have found aisles blocked by merchandise in the front of the store, as well as in the back of the store. In one inspection in Florida, aisles were blocked by rolling containers and pieces of shelving.

Other violations have included hazards to employees from exposure to dangerous chemicals. This year in Minot, North Dakota, inspectors found that some employees needed to be treated after being exposed to a chemical leak. The store had not provided its employees with either training or personal protection equipment to help clean it up.

Earlier this year, Dollar General shareholders voted for a third-party audit of worker safety and how the company’s policies and their implementation were affecting worker well-being. The Dollar General’s board of directors had recommended against the audit.


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    About The Author

    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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