Following a fatal shoplifting incident, an Orlando, Florida, Family Dollar store faces $330,446 in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) penalties for willful and repeat safety violations, the agency announced July 22.
On December 11, 2021, a 41-year-old store employee experienced shortness of breath and nausea after struggling with a shoplifter in a failed effort to prevent the person’s escape with store merchandise. An assistant manager called 911, but the employee later died at a local hospital.
Following its investigation, OSHA cited Family Dollar for entrapment hazards and issued a hazard alert letter for exposing employees to hazardous conditions associated with workplace violence. OSHA urged Family Dollar to develop and train employees on proper procedures in cases of robbery or shoplifting and provide a means for workers to request immediate assistance from the local police or an alarm company.
While OSHA has a rulemaking to develop a workplace violence standard for health care and social services, there is no federal workplace violence standard. The agency has cited employers under the General Duty Clause (Section 5(a)(1)) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act for safety violations following incidents of workplace violence.
OSHA cited Family Dollar for a willful violation for keeping an emergency exit door locked with a single key held by management. The agency also issued citations for two repeat violations for failing to keep an unobstructed pathway for workers to walk through and for allowing aisles to remain obstructed by carts and merchandise boxes.
“Family Dollar has shown time and again that their priority is profits, not their employees,” Sarah Carle, OSHA’s Orlando area office director, said in an agency statement.
“Our inspection revealed multiple unsafe conditions that management should have addressed, including locked doors and blocked exits,” Carle continued. “Tragically, someone lost their life as a result of an altercation. Incidents such as this can be averted when workers are trained on a violence prevention program that empowers them to recognize and avoid risks on the job.”
Family Dollar stores have a long history of OSHA investigations at locations nationwide, according to the agency. Family Dollar is owned by Dollar Tree Inc., headquartered in Chesapeake, Virginia.
OSHA also has repeatedly cited Dollar Tree locations for safety violations such as blocked aisles and exit routes, blocked electrical panels, and locked exit doors.
Moreover, the agency has cited Dollar Tree’s competitor, Dollar General, for similar violations. In February, the agency announced that following 55 inspections at Dollar General stores nationwide, the company had incurred more than $3.6 million in penalties. Earlier this month, OSHA cited violations at a Greencastle, Pennsylvania, Dollar General, with new penalties totaling $136,741.
Additionally, OSHA has cited Target Corporation stores for blocked exits. The company reached a settlement agreement with the agency in fall 2020, agreeing to correct exit access and storage hazards in 200 of its stores and pay $464,750 in penalties to resolve a series of cases before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission involving Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York stores.