At Dollar General stores near Houston, Texas and Green Bay, Wisconsin federal workplace safety inspectors found exit routes and walkways blocked — unsafe conditions that make safe and quick emergency evacuation difficult or impossible — that have become common discoveries for years at stores operated by one of the nation’s largest discount retailers.
These hazards and the proposed penalties assessed after these inspections now have the Tennessee-based, Dollar General Corp. and Dolgencorp LLC facing more than $16 million in fines since 2017 after nearly 200 inspections.
In Waller, Texas, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration opened an inspection in October 2022 and discovered blocked exits and walkways, workers at risk of being struck by falling boxes, and boxes blocking electrical panels. OSHA issued Dollar General Corp. a citation for three safety repeat violations and proposed $294,657 in penalties for these failures.
“Once again, federal workplace safety inspectors have found Dollar General ignoring required safety measures and allowing blocked emergency exits and walkways that endanger everyone who works and shops at stores where these violations exist,” explained OSHA Regional Administrator Eric S. Harbin in Dallas. “Seconds lost trying to move boxes to reach a fire extinguisher or get out a safety exit can be the difference between life and death in an emergency. Allowing unsafe conditions like these to exist is a tragedy waiting to happen.”
In Oconto Falls, Wisconsin, in December 2022, OSHA inspectors found stacks of merchandise and rolling containers blocking many exit routes, including a storeroom emergency exit. In addition to boxes in storage in danger of falling on employees, inspectors identified electrical hazards caused by unsafe electrical boxes, and cords and cables used improperly. OSHA issued a citation for three repeated safety violations to the store’s operator, DolGen Midwest LLC — a company subsidiary — and proposed penalties of $257,829.
“Dollar General continues to put profits before the safety and well-being of store employees despite fines of more than $16 million since 2017 and violations at more than 180 locations,” said OSHA Area Director Robert Bonack in Appleton, Wisconsin. “Despite reporting billions in profits in 2022, Dollar General has not used its vast resources to make the kinds of companywide changes needed to provide a safe workplace.”
In 2022, OSHA added the company to its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which concentrates resources on inspecting employers who have committed willful, repeated or failure-to-abate violations and demonstrated indifference to their legal obligations to provide a safe workplace.
Based in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, Dollar General Corp. and Dolgencorp LLC operate more than 19,000 stores in 47 states and 17 distribution centers and employ more than 170,000 workers. The company reported $37.8 billion in sales and $3.3 billion in operating profit in fiscal year 2022.
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