Hazardous Conditions Accrue $3.4 Million in Combined Penalties Across Dollar General Locations
Unsafe conditions typically found by federal workplace safety inspectors at discount stores operated by Dollar General Corp. and Dolgencorp LLC nationwide were on display again during U.S. Department of Labor inspections at nine locations in Maine, North Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin in late 2022.
The workplace safety failures identified in these inspections add $3.4 million in proposed penalties to the more than $21 million in fines the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed since 2017 after conducting 240 inspections at stores nationwide.
OSHA inspections at Dollar General stores commonly find aisles, emergency exits, fire extinguishers and electrical panels blocked by stored merchandise and other materials, and boxes stacked unsafely. These conditions expose employees to fire, electrical and struck-by and other hazards in violation of federal regulations.
“Dollar General continues to expose its employees to unsafe conditions at its stores across the nation,” says Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “As one of the nation’s largest retailers, the company must focus its attention on resolving these issues and making corporate-wide changes to protect the safety and well-being of the people they employ.”
The findings of OSHA inspections in October, November and December 2022 in Maine, North Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin included the following:
Responding to a complaint in November 2022, OSHA found rolling containers and boxes of products obstructing or completely blocking access to an emergency exit. The agency also found carts clogging aisles and preventing quick access to fire extinguishers, and some goods stacked unsafely up to 6 feet high in front of and around an electrical panel. In addition, inspectors noted the store had not visually inspected fire extinguishers at least monthly, as required.
OSHA cited DG Retail LLC, operator of the Enfield store, with five repeat violations and proposed $321,419 in new penalties.
Casselton, Garrison, Hillsboro, Killdeer, Minot and Tioga, North Dakota
Alerted by state fire marshals concerned about hazards at four stores and by complaints at two locations, OSHA opened inspections between late October and late December 2022 at these six Dollar General stores. They found exit routes, doors, fire extinguishers and electrical panels blocked and unsafely stacked merchandise.
At the Minot store, OSHA inspectors learned at least six store employees suffered exposure to toxic vapors —three of whom sought medical treatment — after several chemical containers ruptured and their contents mixed in December 2022. In this instance, the agency cited Dollar General for not providing employees with adequate respiratory protection and personal protective equipment and for failing to train employees on safe handling of hazardous chemicals and proper clean-up.
Following the North Dakota inspections, OSHA identified 32 violations in a two-month period in fall 2022 and proposed $2.5 million in penalties.
OSHA inspectors at a Dollar General store in Kettering, Ohio, found exit routes, fire extinguishers and electrical panels blocked by merchandise and other materials in November 2022. The agency issued citations for three repeat violations for fire and electrical hazards with $270,116 in proposed penalties.
Responding to a complaint of unsafe working conditions, OSHA investigators discovered exit routes, fire extinguishers and electrical panels blocked by unsafely stacked merchandise and other materials in November 2022. Citations were issued for four repeat and four willful violations for unsafe electrical cords, fire extinguishers that were not inspected, crushing hazards, and conditions that would prevent employees from exiting the store safely in an emergency. OSHA has proposed $367,216 in penalties.
The recent findings and penalties continue Dollar General Corp. and Dolgencorp LLC’s long history of willful, repeat and serious workplace safety violations, a history that led OSHA to include Dollar General Corp. in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.