- A federal U.S. Department of Labor investigation found “dangerous safety hazards” during a November inspection at a store in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania. Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigators reported finding blocked emergency exits and electrical panels.
- As a result of the violations, OSHA cited the discount retailer for one willful violation and one repeat violation and proposed $245,544 in fines. The company has 15 business days to pay the fine, contest the findings before OSHA’s review commission or request a conference with OSHA’s area director.
- The violations found at the central Pennsylvania store are one of about 180 investigations nationwide in which Dollar General is accused of “jeopardizing worker safety,” the DOL said in a Friday statement.
According to OSHA records, inspectors cited the company’s store at 53 Carl W. Kephart Blvd. for a willful and serious violation of maintenance, safeguards and operational features for exit routes. Inspectors said a blocked emergency exit near the store’s cleaning products section exposed employees working in the back half of the store to a fire hazard on or about Nov. 14.
Regulators also said employees were exposed to a fire hazard due to a blocked electrical panel on or about the same date. That issue, which OSHA characterized as a repeat serious violation, was corrected during the inspection, records show.
“Exposing employees to these hazards can be dangerous, especially in an emergency,” Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania-based OSHA Area Director Mary Reynolds said in a statement. “Dollar General Corp. has a substantial history of the same violations and hazards found at stores all around the U.S. They must end their repeated failures to correct these violations before an emergency turns tragic.”
Tennessee-based Dollar General, one of America’s largest retailers, has a “long history of federal workplace safety violations,” according to OSHA.
“As a growing retailer serving thousands of communities across the country, Dollar General is committed to providing a safe work environment for its associates and shopping experience for its customers,” the company said in a statement to Retail Dive, HR Dive’s sister publication. “We regularly review and refine our safety programs, and reinforce them through training, ongoing communication, recognition and accountability. When we learn of situations where we have failed to live up to this commitment, we work to timely address the issue and ensure that the company’s expectations regarding safety are clearly communicated, understood and implemented.”
OSHA said in January that it found dozens of blocked exit violations at 19 stores in Alabama, Florida and Georgia. The agency noted that in addition to creating a fire hazard, improperly stored merchandise may fall, resulting in injuries.
“Dollar General’s growing record of disregard for safety measures makes it abundantly clear that the company puts profit before people,” Atlanta OSHA Regional Administrator Kurt Petermeyer said in a January statement. “These violations are preventable, and failing to prevent them shows a blatant disregard for the workers on whom they depend to keep their stores operating. OSHA continues to make every effort to hold Dollar General accountable for its failures.”
Dollar General’s 19,000th store opened in January. The company employs about 170,000 people. In a March earnings call, CEO Jeff Owen said the company plans to spend $100 million in store-level investments to fund more staffing in an effort to improve its in-store experience for customers.