Dollar General and Dolgencorp were fined $3.4 million by the Department of Labor for unsafe conditions after inspections in 2022 at nine locations in Maine, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin, according to a press release this week.
The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed $21 million in fines since 2017 after 240 inspections at Dollar General stores nationwide.
The usual violations regarding these penalties were blocked aisles that could endanger people in case of a fire and unsafely stacked merchandise that could fall to employees.
The $3.4 million fine this time was no different, as inspections found blocked emergency exits and blocked aisles in nine locations.
In Enfield, Maine, after a complaint, the inspection found an emergency exit blocked by containers and merchandise, carts clogging aisles, preventing quick access to fire extinguishers, and goods stacked unsafely to 6 feet high.
These violations resulted in $321,000 in penalties.
In North Dakota, state fire marshals alerted OSHA, and after an inspection at six stores, it found blocked exit routes, doors, fire extinguishers, and electrical panels. Also, unsafely stacked merchandise was found.
At another store in Minot, North Dakota, OSHA said that six employees were exposed to toxic vapors, and three of them sought medical treatment. This was due to chemical containers rupturing, and according to the agency, employees were not given adequate protection equipment, and they were not trained properly on handling hazardous chemicals or cleaning them after a leak.
OSHA found 32 violations in North Dakota stores over two months, resulting in $2.5 million in fines.
Exit routes were found blocked in stores in Ohio and Wisconsin.
“Dollar General continues to expose its employees to unsafe conditions at its stores across the nation,” said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “As one of the nation’s largest retailers, the company must focus its attention on resolving these issues and making corporate-wide changes to protect the safety and well-being of the people they employ.”
The Epoch Times reached out to Dollar General for comment.
OSHA included Dollar General Corp. in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program because of its long history of repeat violations, according to the agency.
Goodlettsville, Tennessee-based Dollar General and Dolgencorp operate about 19,000 stores and 28 distribution centers in 47 states and employ more than 173,000 workers. In fiscal year 2022, the company reported more than $9 billion in net sales.
The company 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.
Penalties on Other Supermarkets
In April, Massachusetts Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division gave an $800,000 fine to a Boston-area supermarket, C-Mart, which focuses on Asian merchandise.
The Attorney General’s office said that C-Mart failed to pay overtime and weekend rates to its employees. It also said the supermarket could not show accurate payroll records and did not post required workplace notices.
“I am proud of the office’s work to ensure that the workers harmed by C-Mart will get back the wages they are rightfully owed,” Attorney General Andrea Campbell said in a statement.
After investigations, 15 citations were given to the supermarket in 2021 by the Fair Labor Division.
C-Mart said it did not agree with the way the calculation was done for the amount due.
“This matter arose due to bookkeeping system issues and the unavailability of timecards, not to bad faith of anyone at C-Mart,” C-Mart attorney Matthew Morris said, according to WBUR.
The Attorney General’s office would distribute the money to affected C-Mart employees through a claims process. The period covers 2016 to 2019.
In Texas, OSHA programs have identified over 300 violations in more than 500 inspections at Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores since 2017, Supermarket News reported.
In March, OSHA proposed a $254,000 fine for Dollar Tree after three repeat violations in Texas.
OSHA found in 2022 that the supermarket had blocked exit routes, thus exposing employees to fire hazards, and boxes were stacked unsafely.
Dollar Tree operates 16,000 stores nationwide.