On August 1, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced $1,233,364 in new proposed penalties for Dollar Tree Inc. after citing multiple violations at 2 Family Dollar stores in Ohio. Dollar Tree acquired Family Dollar in 2015, according to the agency.
The agency cited a Maple Heights, Ohio, store for 1 repeat violation and 4 willful violations, with proposed penalties of $685,777. OSHA initiated an inspection on January 31 following an employee report of unsafe conditions at the Family Dollar store on Dunham Road.
OSHA also cited a Columbus store for 1 serious, 1 repeat, and 4 willful violations, proposing $547,587 in penalties. The agency opened an inspection on February 10 in response to an employee complaint of water leaking through the ceiling causing wet floors and ceiling tiles on the floor at the Lockbourne Road store.
“Family Dollar and Dollar Tree stores have a long and disturbing history of putting profits above employee safety,” Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker said in an agency statement.
“Time and time again, we find the same violations–blocked or obstructed emergency exits and aisles, boxes of merchandise stacked high or in front of electrical panels and fire extinguishers,” Parker continued. “Each hazard can lead to a tragedy.”
Since 2017, OSHA and state workplace safety and health agencies have conducted more than 500 inspections of Family Dollar and Dollar Tree locations operated by Dollar Tree Inc. and found more than 300 violations. OSHA reported routinely finding exit routes, fire extinguishers, and electrical panels dangerously obstructed or blocked during inspections, as well as unsafe walking-working surfaces and unstable stacks of merchandise.
In both inspections of the Ohio Family Dollar stores, OSHA found hazards related to inaccessible electrical equipment and fire extinguishers, obstructed egress, and unstable stacks of cartons, as well as trip and fall hazards caused by water, carts, boxes, trash, and merchandise spread throughout walking-working surfaces in retail areas and storerooms.
Last month, OSHA cited an Orlando, Florida, Family Dollar store for willful and repeat safety violations, proposing $330,446 in penalties. The agency also issued a hazard alert letter for exposing employees to hazardous conditions associated with workplace violence after a fatal shoplifting incident.
Dollar Tree Inc., headquartered in Chesapeake, Virginia, operates more than 16,000 stores across 48 contiguous states and 5 Canadian provinces supported by a nationwide logistics network. The company has more than 193,000 employees, and its stores operate under the Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, and Dollar Tree Canada brands. The company reported a gross profit of $7.7 billion in 2021, according to the agency.
OSHA also has frequently cited Dollar Tree competitor Dollar General. Last month, it cited a Greencastle, Pennsylvania, Dollar General store for two repeat violations for blocked and constricted exit routes—the same violations cited a year earlier. Agency inspectors reported finding that the Greencastle store staged excessive amounts of merchandise in the store’s aisles and stockroom. OSHA has cited repeat and willful citations at Dollar General locations nationwide for obstructed exit routes and blocked portable fire extinguishers and electrical panels.
OSHA also cited Target Corporation stores for blocked exits. The company reached a settlement agreement with the agency in fall 2020 to resolve a series of cases before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission involving stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York.