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August 22, 2022
Texas grocery stores facing $1 million OSHA fine

On August 15, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced it cited Houston-based Fiesta Mart LLC for 7 willful violations, with $1,015,189 in proposed penalties, for failing to guard machinery following amputation injuries at 2 of the chain’s Texas locations. According to the agency, this is the 13th time in 9 years that OSHA has cited Fiesta Mart for failing to guard band saws used in meat cutting.

“Despite painful and permanent injuries suffered by a half dozen of its employees since 2015, Fiesta Mart repeatedly ignores required safety standards,” Eric S. Harbin, OSHA’s Dallas regional administrator, said in a statement. “The company now faces penalties of more than $1 million for their disregard of the law. Fiesta Mart must change the way it operates before more workers suffer serious injury.”

The agency learned that two employees suffered fingertip amputations while using band saws to cut meat at the chain’s supermarkets in Dallas on February 18 and Plano on May 23. In 2015, workers sustained amputation injuries in Fort Worth and Dallas stores, and in 2018, workers at stores in Garland and Plano suffered similar injuries.

Fiesta Mart has about 8,000 employees at more than 60 stores in or near Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston, according to the agency. Fiesta Mart, owned by Grupo Chedraui's Bodega Latina Corp., one of Mexico’s largest supermarket companies, has U.S. operations in Arizona, California, New Mexico, Nevada, and Texas.

The Fiesta Mart citations were not the only million-dollar penalties announced this week.

Dollar General facing new $1 million penalty

Following inspections of 3 Georgia Dollar General stores, OSHA has proposed $1,292,783 in new penalties. The agency has proposed more than $6.5 million in penalties after 78 inspections at Dollar General locations nationwide.

Inspections of stores in Pembroke in February and Hogansville and Smyrna in March led to citations for four willful and seven repeat violations. OSHA cited the company for failing to keep receiving areas clean and orderly and for stacking materials in an unsafe manner. These hazards exposed workers to slips, trips, and being struck by objects, according to the agency.

OSHA cited Dollar General for exposing workers to fire and entrapment hazards by failing to keep exit routes and electrical panels clear and unobstructed.

“Dollar General continues to demonstrate a willful pattern of ignoring hazardous working conditions and a disregard for the well-being of its employees,” Doug Parker, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, said in an agency statement. “Despite similar citations and sizable penalties in more than 70 inspections, the company refuses to change its business practices. OSHA will take all necessary enforcement actions and pursue all available remedies against Dollar General until it fixes the disconnect between its business model and worker safety.”

“Dollar General continues to make it obvious that profit means more to them than the safety of their employees,” Parker added.

Goodlettsville, Tennessee-based Dolgencorp LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Dollar General Corp., operates about 17,000 stores and 17 distribution centers around the country, employing more than 150,000 workers.

OSHA has repeatedly cited Dollar General stores for obstructed exit routes and blocked portable fire extinguishers and electrical panels, most recently in Greencastle, Pennsylvania. The agency also has frequently cited Dollar General’s competitor, Dollar Tree Inc., which operates Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores.

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