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Dollar General Is Just Throwing Money Away at This Point

Less than a month after the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) cited Dollar General Corp. with more than $1.6 million in penalties for putting its workers’ safety at risk, federal inspectors have issued citations for similar violations at store locations in Alabama, Florida and Georgia, and added $2.78 million in proposed penalties now owed by national discount retailer.

The DOL said Tuesday that since 2017, Dollar General Corp. has been fined more than $12.3 million in initial penalties for numerous willful, repeat and serious workplace safety violations. During the past five years, the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found unsafe conditions that expose workers to the possibility of being struck by falling boxes of merchandise or trapped or unable to exit the store safely in an emergency in more than 180 inspections at Dollar General stores nationwide.

Seven inspections by OSHA from April 28 through June 3 in Clay, Dothan, Odenville and Town Creek, Ala.; Darien and West Point, Ga, and Panama City Beach, Fla., identified 31 violations similar to those found at other Dollar General stores where litigation is pending. Violations issued as the result of the inspections have qualified Dollar General Corp. for inclusion in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

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“Dollar General has shown a pattern of alarmingly willful disregard for federal safety standards, choosing to place profits over their employees’ safety and well-being,” said Doug Parker, assistant secretary for occupational safety and health at DOL. “Neighborhood stores exist to support the needs of their communities–the same communities in which many Dollar General employees live–and that support must include following laws designed to keep workers safe from preventable injuries or worse.”

Specifically, OSHA inspectors cited Dollar General Corp. for 11 willful, 16 repeat and four serious violations at the seven Southeast locations. In addition to the struck-by and blocked exit hazards, OSHA cited the company for failing to label, mount or make fire extinguishers accessible; storing boxes in front of electrical panels, increasing the risk of fire and electrical hazards; failing to use exit signs to facilitate safe egress in the event of an emergency; exposing workers to electrocution by not keeping unused openings in electrical cabinets closed, and not providing handrails on stairs where required.

The violations found in these recent inspections mirror those OSHA has found at Dollar General locations across the nation, DOL noted.

Last month, inspections at four locations in Alabama, Florida and Georgia uncovered numerous hazards, leading OSHA to propose $1.68 million in penalties. In August, after inspections at three other Georgia locations, another $1.29 million in penalties was settled on for exposing workers to fire, electrical and entrapment hazards by failing to keep exit routes and electrical panels unobstructed. In February, OSHA decided $1.05 million in penalties was appropriate after inspections at three other Mobile locations and one in Dalton, Ga., found similar hazards.

In December, an inspection in Mobile led OSHA to propose $321,827 in penalties for exposing workers to slip and trip hazards, and not keeping the main storeroom orderly to allow a safe exit in an emergency.

Based in Goodlettsville, Tenn., Dollar General Corp. operates about 18,000 stores and 17 distribution centers in 47 states and employs more than 150,000 workers. Dollar General has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.