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October 19, 2022
OSHA Proposes $1.6 Million in New Dollar General Penalties

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has again cited Dollar General Corp. and its parent Dolgencorp LLC, proposing $1,682,302 in new penalties, following inspections of four locations in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. The $1.6 million in new penalties is a portion of more than $9.6 million in total initial penalties the company has received since 2017, OSHA announced October 17.

Agency inspectors cited the retailer for four willful and 10 repeat violations for failing to keep receiving and storage areas clean and orderly, and stacking materials in an unsafe manner after inspections conducted in April in Mobile and Grove Hill, Alabama; Tampa, Florida; and Dewy Rose, Georgia.

These violations cited would expose workers to hazards associated with slips, trips and being struck-by objects. Other violations cited included exposing workers to fire and entrapment hazards by failing to keep exit routes and electrical panels clear and unobstructed, failing to mount and label fire extinguishers, and having a locked exit door that required a key to open.  

"Once again, our inspectors have found Dollar General stores ignoring federal safety standards and exposing their employees to hazardous working conditions in violation of the law,” Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker said in an agency statement.

OSHA has conducted 182 inspections since 2017 at Dollar General locations nationwide often finding unsafe conditions that put workers’ safety at risk if they need to exit quickly in an emergency.

"We will use our full enforcement powers to hold Dollar General accountable for its ongoing pattern of behavior until they show that they take worker safety seriously,” Parker said.

OSHA has also cited Dollar General’s competitor Dollar Tree Inc. for similar violations­–blocked electrical panels and exit routes and improperly stacked cartons–at its Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores. Target Corporation reached a settlement agreement with OSHA in the fall of 2020 to resolve a series of cases before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission involving blocked exits at stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York.

New Jersey Contractors Cited for Exposing Workers to Power Lines

OSHA October 18 announced it had cited three New Jersey contractors who willfully exposed employees to potentially lethal dangers by allowing them to work near energized power lines at a Paterson, New Jersey worksite.

The agency cited Litana Development Inc. with three willful violations and proposed penalties totaling $435,081. Prata Construction LLC and Elite Brothers Construction LLC were each cited for one willful and two serious violations with proposed penalties totaling $41,478 each.

On April 15, a local power utility alerted OSHA about workers constructing a five-story apartment building too close to nearby power lines. After arriving at the site, OSHA inspectors found employees at risk of electrocution as they worked from a metal scaffold erected within five feet of high-voltage power lines.

The agency informed the project’s developer, Litana Development Inc. of Wayne and two subcontractors, Prata Construction LLC of Denville–a carpentry contractor–and Elite Brothers Construction LLC of Paterson–a stucco contractor–of the dangers and told them work must cease. The agency subsequently posted an Imminent Danger Notice in English and Spanish to warn workers at the site about the extreme danger.

On June 23, the Labor Department’s Regional Office of the Solicitor secured a temporary restraining order in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey in Newark to enforce OSHA’s Imminent Danger Notice.

Litana negotiated a consent injunction with DOL attorneys, allowing work to resume as long as workers remained 11 feet away from the power lines.

On July 15, OSHA inspectors found that work had once again been performed dangerously close to the power lines. The court entered a more restrictive Modified Consent Injunction on August 2, which provided for third-party monitoring and physical barriers to ensure that workers were kept safe.

Electrocution is one of the “fatal four” hazards–the four leading causes of worker fatalities in construction–along with caught-in/caught-between hazards, falls from height, and struck-by hazards.

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