- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited a Dollar General store in Lamesa, Texas, for blocked exit routes and walkways and unsafely stacked merchandise, resulting in fire hazards, according to a Monday news release. The agency proposed $294,646 in penalties following its inspection, which took place in December.
- The DOL’s release struck a frustrated tone, calling attention to Dollar General’s allegedly repeated failure to address safety issues at its stores in recent years. It noted the more than 240 inspections that have taken place at Dollar General Corp. and Dolgencorp LLC locations, and the total proposed penalties of more than $21 million.
- “Dollar General’s pattern of blocking emergency exits and pathways with boxes of merchandise, rolling carts and other materials jeopardizes the safety of everyone in their stores,” OSHA Area Director Elizabeth Linda Routh said in the release. “Poor housekeeping can lead employees to suffer needless injuries and make it hard to exit the store quickly in a crisis. These conditions must be corrected immediately.”
The owners and operators of Dollar General — Dollar General Corp. and Dolgencorp LLC — are based in Tennessee and operate nationwide, with around 18,000 stores and 17 distribution centers in 47 states and more than 150,000 employees, according to the DOL.
While the company has grown rapidly, announcing plans to open nearly 1,000 new stores in fiscal year 2023, it has increasingly attracted OSHA’s ire for safety violations. Last year, the agency added Dollar General to its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which negatively recognizes employers “that have demonstrated indifference to their OSH Act obligations by committing willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations.”
OSHA’s most recent citation comes just a week after Dollar General shareholders voted to request an independent, third-party worker safety and well-being audit and report, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Domini US Impact Equity Fund, the lead filer of the safety resolution, cited OSHA’s penalties and status as a severe violator in its supporting statement. “While the company states it engages employees through town hall meetings, DG voice, and ‘pulse’ surveys to understand employee sentiment, there is no disclosure on how this feedback informs actions to address workers’ concerns and priorities,” the shareholder proposal reads.
Before the vote, in response to the proposal, Dollar General’s Board of Directors recommended shareholders vote against the resolution, arguing that it already had a comprehensive and regularly reviewed safety program, conducts safety checks, has a “culture of safety” and solicits feedback from employees. The response did not address OSHA’s citations or the company’s severe violator status.
In response to a request for comment on the alleged violations at the Lamesa, Texas, store, Dollar General echoed similar sentiments to those the Board of Directors relied on in the proxy statement.
“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,” Dollar General said. “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.”