On November 22, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced new citations and $341,842 in new proposed penalties for discount retailer Dollar General. OSHA already had placed Dollar General Corp. and its parent Dolgencorp LLC in the agency’s severe violators enforcement program (SVEP) and has proposed penalties totaling $15 million.
OSHA inspectors found merchandise stacked unsafely, excessive clutter and unsanitary conditions, and unmarked emergency exits in the storeroom of a Columbus, Ohio, Dollar General store and cited the company for four repeat violations.
“Dollar General Corp.’s willingness to avoid its legal responsibility for the safety of its employees is difficult to understand,” Larry Johnson, OSHA’s Columbus, Ohio, area director, said in an agency statement.
“Time and time again, we find the company overfilling its storerooms and allowing merchandise to block aisles and emergency exits, and be stacked high over the heads of many workers. These are conditions that endanger workers during the normal course of business and create the potential for disaster in an emergency.”
Hazards identified by OSHA inspectors at the Columbus store included:
- Not keeping the storeroom clean, orderly, and in a sanitary condition;
- Not storing material safely;
- Failing to use exit signs in the storeroom to ensure the ability to exit safely in an emergency; and
- Failing to mount fire extinguishers.
The OSHA standards most frequently cited in the retail trade are the agency’s powered industrial trucks, hazard communication, maintenance of exit routes, electrical, and portable fire extinguishers standards.
Chicago area contractor cited for repeat trenching violation
OSHA also announced it had cited a Schaumburg, Illinois, contractor for three repeat, one serious, and one other-than-serious violation of federal trenching and excavation standards, with proposed penalties totaling $118,962. The agency previously cited A. Lamp Concrete Contractors Inc. in 2018 and 2021 for exposing workers to cave-in hazards.
An OSHA inspector observed two employees of A. Lamp Concrete in a 7-foot-deep trench in Broadview, Illinois, working on municipal sewer and water lines without adequate cave-in protection or safe ways to get in and out of the trench.
“Our inspector found that a company foreman was supervising the work of two employees in the unprotected trench, which demonstrates the company’s lack of concern for federal regulations, industry-recognized best practices, and its legal responsibility to protect workers on the job,” Angeline Loftus, OSHA’s Chicago north area director, said in an agency statement.
“In mere seconds, thousands of pounds of soil can trap a worker in a trench collapse and lead to serious and often fatal injuries.”
Trench collapses are among the construction industry’s most lethal hazards, according to OSHA. A cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as 3,000 pounds, equal to a compact car. The agency noted 22 workers suffered fatal injuries in trenching and excavation work in the first 6 months of 2022—a 68% increase over 2021.
OSHA has an ongoing trenching and excavation national emphasis program (NEP). In July, the agency announced plans for 1,000 excavation inspections to address the uptick in trenching fatalities.