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April 19, 2023
Dollar General facing $554K in new OSHA fines

Dollar General Corp. and its parent, Dolgencorp LLC, face $554,486 in new Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fines following inspections of stores in Texas and Wisconsin, the agency announced April 13.

At stores near Houston, Texas, and Green Bay, Wisconsin, OSHA inspectors found exit routes and walkways blocked, which are unsafe conditions that make safe and quick emergency evacuation difficult or impossible—violations the agency has repeatedly cited at other Dollar General stores.

OSHA has proposed more than $16 million in fines since 2017 after nearly 200 inspections of Dollar General Stores, and it’s placed Dollar General and Dolgencorp in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP). Employers in the SVEP are subject to mandatory follow-up inspections.

At a store in Waller, Texas, OSHA inspectors discovered blocked exits and walkways, workers at risk of being struck by falling boxes, and boxes blocking electrical panels. The agency cited Dollar General with 3 repeat safety violations and proposed $294,657 in penalties.

“Once again, federal workplace safety inspectors have found Dollar General ignoring required safety measures and allowing blocked emergency exits and walkways that endanger everyone who works and shops at stores where these violations exist,” Eric S. Harbin, OSHA’s Dallas regional administrator, said in an agency statement. “Seconds lost trying to move boxes to reach a fire extinguisher or get out a safety exit can be the difference between life and death in an emergency. Allowing unsafe conditions like these to exist is a tragedy waiting to happen.”

At an Oconto Falls, Wisconsin, store, agency inspectors found stacks of merchandise and rolling containers blocking exit routes, including a storeroom emergency exit. They also found boxes in storage in danger of falling on employees, electrical hazards caused by unsafe electrical boxes, and cords and cables that were being used improperly. The agency issued citations for 3 repeat safety violations and proposed penalties of $257,829.

“Despite reporting billions in profits in 2022, Dollar General has not used its vast resources to make the kinds of companywide changes needed to provide a safe workplace,” Robert Bonack, OSHA’s Appleton, Wisconsin, area office director, said in a statement.

Alabama paper mill cited in fatal electrocution

OSHA also announced it cited South Coast Paper LLC following the agency’s investigation of a fatal electrocution at a Maplesville, Alabama, paper mill. The employer disregarded hazardous energy control procedures that protect employees performing maintenance on machinery, according to the agency.

Inspectors found a three-person team of employees working on a line of a sheeter machine, a system of six machines connected by metal conveyors that transform paper rolls into copier paper. When the workers noticed one of the conveyor belts had stopped, they got to work replacing the belt’s motor without de-energizing the machine. A hot wire made contact with the ground and energized the machine, electrocuting a 36-year-old worker when he grabbed a metal rail connected to the conveyor system.

OSHA cited South Coast Paper for a willful violation of the lockout/tagout standard; a repeat violation of lockout/tagout training requirements; and serious violations for a lack of machine guarding, not providing clear access in front of a 480-volt breaker panel, and not training workers on electrical safe work practices. The agency proposed penalties totaling $227,040.

“South Coast Paper’s failure to follow established safety procedures cost this worker their life and has left family, friends and co-workers to mourn,” Jose Gonzalez, OSHA’s Mobile, Alabama, area office director, said in a statement.

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