OSHA Continues to Find Violations at Dollar Stores Across Country

17 Mar, 2023 Liz Carey

                               

Mount Pleasant, Texas (WorkersCompensation.com) – OSHA has continued to cite Dollar Tree and Dollar General stores across the country for workplace violations over the past few weeks. 

On February 27, federal inspectors cited a Dollar Tree in Mount Pleasant, Texas for blocked exits and walkways, as well as boxes stacked high enough to fall on workers. The citations continue a pattern the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s finding of workplace safety infractions at discount stores since 2017. On Sept. 7, OSHA opened an inspection at the store and cited the store for three repeat violations and proposed $254,478 in penalties. 

"In the event of an emergency, workers and others must have fast and safe access to unblocked exit routes," OSHA Regional Administrator Eric S. Harbin in Dallas said in a statement. "Our inspectors found merchandise and other equipment blocking walkways and an emergency exit, this time in Mount Pleasant, Texas. Retailers like Dollar Tree that fail to make sure their stores' storage areas are organized and safe are endangering everyone who works and shops there."

Since 2017, federal and state OSHA inspectors cited Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores with more than 300 violations ranging from blocked exit route, to unsafe working areas and unsafely stacked boxes and merchandise. Dollar Tree Inc. operates more than 16,000 stores in 48 states and in five Canadian provinces with more than 193,000 employees, and gross profits of $7.7 billion in 2021. 

On March 8, OSHA said it had cited DolGen Midwest LLC for workplace safety violations at its store on Princeton-Glendale Road in Cincinnati after firefighters raised concerns. Inspectors found exit routes, doors and fire extinguishers blocked at the store, and cited the store for three repeated safety violations, proposing penalties of $254,478. 

"Fast access to fire extinguishers and exit doors and the routes to them are a matter of life and death in an emergency, and yet – despite millions in fines and safety violations at more than 180 locations – Dollar General continues to repeatedly ignore these conditions and risk the safety of their employees," said OSHA Area Director Ken Montgomery in Cincinnati. "The company must change the way it operates and ensure that its store locations meet federal workplace safety standards before tragedy strikes."

During inspections in September and November 2022, OSHA inspectors found exit routes throughout the store and a storeroom emergency exit, and fire extinguishers blocked by stacks of merchandise and rolling containers, as well as unsafely stacked merchandise that could have fallen on workers. 

And on March 13, OSHA announced it had cited stores in Ocala, Florida and Columbus, Georgia for repeat violations, including blocked exits and fire extinguishers, locked exit doors and boxes stacked too high for safety. 

“Dollar General is well aware of federal requirements, but they continue to ignore their legal responsibilities to protect their employees at stores throughout the nation,” Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA’s Atlanta regional administrator, said in an agency statement. “Exposing employees and others to these hazards can be dangerous, especially in an emergency.”

The agency proposed $710,974 in penalties for two stores in Ocala after five violations including finding merchandise blocking exit routes, as well as merchandise blocking fire extinguishers and an automatic sliding door that was disabled and locked. 

OSHA inspectors in Georgia found two repeat violations at the Victory Drive store in Columbus – including a locked emergency exit door and boxes stacked too high. The agency proposed $221,001 in penalties. At the 13th Avenue store, OSHA inspectors found merchandise, shopping carts and other items blocking walkways, exposing employees to trip hazards, and cited the store for one violation with a proposed $98,219 penalty. 

Between February 1, 2022 and January 31, 2023, OSHA’s Region 4 office has issued 23 citations to Dollar General stores in Alabama, Florida and Georgia, with a total of nearly $7.5 million in penalties. Since 2017, OSHA has cited the company for numerous willful, repeat, and serious workplace safety violations and proposed more than $15 million in penalties. 

“Family Dollar and Dollar Tree stores have a long and disturbing history of putting profits above employee safety,” Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker said in an agency statement last August.

Dollar General Corp. and Dolgencorp LLC said they were committed to creating a safe environment. 

“As a growing retailer serving thousands of communities across the country, Dollar General is committed to providing a safe work environment for its associates and shopping experience for its customers,” the company said in a statement to the Ocala Star Banner. “We regularly review and refine our safety programs, and reinforce them through training, ongoing communication, recognition, and accountability. When we learn of situations where we have failed to live up to this commitment, we work to timely address the issue and ensure that the company’s expectations regarding safety are clearly communicated, understood, and implemented.”


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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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