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April 28, 2023
OSHA again cites Dollar Tree, Dollar General for blocked exits

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) again cited discount retailers Dollar Tree and Dollar General for blocked exit routes in their stores. On April 24, the agency announced it’s seeking $770,136 in penalties for hazards related to obstructed exits, unsafe storage of materials, fire, and other hazards at Dollar Tree stores in East Providence and Pawtucket, Rhode Island.

On April 20, the agency announced it also cited Dollar General Corp. and its parent company, Dolgencorp, for fire and entrapment hazards, as shelving, rolling containers, and merchandise blocked exit routes in a Winter Garden, Florida, store.

OSHA also found merchandise blocking walkways and items stacked in an unstable manner, exposing workers to trip and struck-by hazards, and is therefore seeking $401,812 in new penalties.  

Since 2017, OSHA has fined Dollar General Corp. and Dolgencorp more than $16 million for willful, repeat, and serious workplace safety violations discovered in more than 180 inspections of Dollar General stores nationwide.

In 27 Dollar General store inspections in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia from February 1, 2022, through March 13, 2023, OSHA assessed a total of nearly $8.5 million in penalties. 

“Years of OSHA inspections that have identified systemic hazards makes it clear that Dollar General values profits more than the safety of the people who work in their stores,” Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA’s Atlanta regional administrator, said in an agency statement. “They are well aware of federal requirements, but they continue to ignore their legal responsibilities to protect their employees at stores throughout the nation.”

Rhode Island Dollar Tree stores cited for repeat violations

OSHA cited Dollar Tree’s East Providence store for three repeat violations, with $319,220 in proposed fines, and the Pawtucket store for four repeat violations, totaling $450,916 in proposed fines.

Responding to complaints about unsafe conditions at the two Dollar Tree stores, OSHA inspectors found employees exposed to the following hazards:

  • Blocked exits: Large piles of materials blocked access to emergency exits. Inspectors found that access to an emergency exit was completely blocked at the Pawtucket store.
  • Unsafe storage of materials: Boxed merchandise was stacked up to 7 feet high at both locations.
  • Fire extinguishers: Storage room materials completely blocked access to fire extinguishers at the Pawtucket store.
  • Compressed gas storage: Inspectors found helium compressed gas cylinders were improperly stored and labeled in the East Providence store. The cylinders also lacked caps for valve protection.

OSHA previously cited Dollar Tree for similar hazards at locations in Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Texas, and Wisconsin.

Since 2017, federal and state workplace safety and health agencies have identified more than 300 violations during more than 500 inspections at Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores, which are operated by Chesapeake, Virginia-based Dollar Tree Inc.

“Providing employees with clearly recognized and legally required safeguards, such as unimpeded exit access, properly stored materials, and readily available fire extinguishers, must be a priority for any employer and should not be ignored,” Robert Sestito, OSHA’s Providence, Rhode Island, area director, said in an agency statement.

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