US DOL Finds Family Dollar Exposing Workers to Hazards
The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced that its Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Dollar Tree Stores Inc.—operator of Family Dollar and Dollar Tree stores—for exposing workers to fire, entrapment, and struck-by hazards at a Richmond Hill, Georgia, Family Dollar store. In response to its findings, OSHA has issued citations for four repeat violations and is proposing US$364,645 in penalties for the location’s parent company.
OSHA found the store failed to keep exit routes clear of merchandise and boxes. Inspectors also discovered compressed gas cylinders left unsecured and in danger of falling over, as well as unsafely stacked boxes of merchandise at risk of falling onto workers.
“Family Dollar and its parent company, Dollar Tree Stores Inc., continue to discount the safety of its employees and others for the sake of profits by unsafely storing merchandise,” said Jerred Stevens, OSHA acting area office director in Savannah, Georgia. “Time and time again, we find the company overfilling its storerooms and allowing merchandise to block aisles and emergency exits. This has to stop before someone is seriously hurt or unable to exit safely in an emergency.”
The findings of the Richmond Hill inspection add to Dollar Tree’s lengthy history of workplace safety violations. Since 2017, federal and state OSHA programs have found more than 300 violations in more than 500 inspections at stores operated as Dollar Tree and Family Dollar locations. In 81 previous federal and state workplace safety inspections, the company’s Family Dollar stores received citations for 12 willful, 27 repeat, 53 serious and 15 other-than-serious violations for similar hazards found in Richmond Hill. The employer 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.
Dollar Tree Stores Inc. isn’t the only U.S. discount retail chain to be found repeatedly in violation of OSHA safety standards. Competitor Dollar General Corp., which operates more than 18,000 Dollar General discount stores in 47 states, through its wholly owned subsidiary, Dolgencorp LLC, has also failed numerous OSHA safety inspections and has been fined more than $9.6 million in total initial penalties since 2017.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education, and assistance.