The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced May 30 that discount retailer Dollar General Corp. and its parent, Dolgencorp LLC, face $267,622 in new OSHA penalties for two repeat and three serious violations at stores in southeast Oklahoma.
OSHA inspectors discovered boxes of merchandise blocking walkways at Dollar General stores in Hartshorne and Wilburton that could prevent employees and others from evacuating the store quickly and safely in an emergency. They also found boxes stacked in front of the stores’ electrical panels. OSHA says the blocked exit routes and walkways expose employees to fire hazards and are the same types of violations investigators have discovered in Dollar General stores across the country.
“Dollar General continues to ignore federal safety standards that would protect its employees and others in its stores,” Stephen Kirby, OSHA’s Oklahoma City area director, said in an agency statement. “Our inspectors routinely identify hazards caused by poor housekeeping, unsafe storage, and by walkways and exits blocked by merchandise. These conditions must be corrected before serious injuries or worse occur in an emergency.”
OSHA found violations during more than 240 inspections since 2017 at U.S. stores operated by Dollar General Corp. and Dolgencorp LLC and has fined the company more than $21 million in penalties.
In 2022, OSHA added Dollar General and Dolgencorp to its Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP). The agency uses the SVEP with its mandatory follow-up inspections to concentrate enforcement resources on inspecting employers cited for willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations or employers that show indifference to legal requirements to provide a safe and healthy workplace.
Goodlettsville, Tennessee-based Dollar General and Dolgencorp operate about 18,000 stores and 17 distribution centers in 47 states and employ more than 150,000 workers, according to OSHA.
On May 23, OSHA announced $3.4 million in new fines for Dollar General and Dolgencorp following the conclusion of inspections at nine Dollar General locations in Maine, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Those citations also included blocked exit routes and electrical and fire hazards.
State fire marshals alerted OSHA officials to hazards at four North Dakota stores, and the agency received complaints regarding two other locations. The agency identified 32 violations at the six North Dakota stores in a 2-month period and proposed $2.5 million in penalties.
At Dollar General’s Minot, North Dakota, store, OSHA inspectors learned at least six store employees had suffered exposure to toxic vapors—three of whom sought medical treatment—after several chemical containers ruptured and their contents mixed.
OSHA also has cited Dollar General’s competitor, Dollar Tree Inc., operator of Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores, for similar violations—blocked doors, electrical panels, and exit routes, as well as unsafely stacked boxes. According to the agency, federal and state OSHA inspectors have identified more than 300 violations since 2017 in more than 500 inspections at Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores.
Additionally, the agency has cited Target Corporation stores for blocked exits. In 2020, the company reached a settlement agreement with the agency to resolve a series of cases before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission involving stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York.