Safety problems continue to mount at one of the country’s largest discount retailers.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) said Monday that Dollar Tree Inc. continues to expose employees to injury risk by “flagrantly ignoring workplace safety regulations,” this time with hazardous conditions found at two Ohio locations in Maple Heights and Columbus.
Since 2017, DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and state OSHA programs have conducted more than 500 inspections at Family Dollar and Dollar Tree locations under the Dollar Tree Inc. corporate umbrella and found more than 300 violations. During these inspections, OSHA routinely found exit routes, fire extinguishers and electrical panels dangerously obstructed or blocked, unsafe walking and working surfaces, and unstable stacks of merchandise, DOL said.
Following the Ohio inspections, OSHA proposed penalties of $1.23 million for multiple violations.
“Family Dollar and Dollar Tree stores have a long and disturbing history of putting profits above employee safety,” said Doug Parker, assistant secretary for occupational safety and health. “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. Each hazard can lead to a tragedy.”
On Jan. 31, the agency initiated an inspection following an employee report of unsafe conditions at the Family Dollar store on Dunham Road in Maple Heights. It issued citations for one repeat violation and four willful violations, with proposed penalties of $685,777.
Two weeks later, OSHA opened an inspection on Feb. 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 in Columbus. As a result, the agency proposed $547,587 in penalties for one serious and one report violation, and four willful violations.
In both inspections, OSHA found hazards related to obstructed egress, unstable stacks, and inaccessible electrical equipment and fire extinguishers, as well as trip and fall hazards caused by water, carts, boxes, trash and merchandise spread throughout walking-working surfaces in the retail areas and storerooms.
A Fortune 500 company, Dollar Tree has been a major operator of discount variety stores in North America for more than 30 years. Headquartered in Chesapeake, Va., the company operates more than 16,000 stores across the 48 contiguous states and five Canadian provinces, supported by a nationwide logistics network and more than 193,000 employees, DOL noted. The company’s stores operate under the Dollar Tree, Family Dollar and Dollar Tree Canada brands. Dollar Tree acquired Family Dollar in 2015. In 2021, the company reported a gross profit of $7.7 billion.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with each of OSHA’s area directors or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Dollar Tree did not respond to a request for comment from Sourcing Journal.