Inspectors cite company for 'flagrant' ignorance over 'hazardous' conditions
The U.S. Department of Labor has once again cited one of the nation’s largest discount retailers for workplace safety violations after it imposed $1.2 million in penalties following an inspection at its stores in Ohio.
The department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) “repeatedly found” obstructed exits, fire extinguishers, electrical panels, and stacks of merchandise at two Ohio locations, citing that the company “continues to expose employees to the risk of injuries by flagrantly ignoring workplace safety regulations, this time with hazardous conditions found.”
A history of workplace and safety violations
In a media release, the department revealed that since 2017, OSHA programs had conducted more than 500 inspections at Family Dollar and Dollar Tree stores. It reported that they had found more than 300 violations at the said establishments, which were operated by their parent company, Dollar Tree Inc.
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“During these inspections, OSHA routinely finds exit routes, fire extinguishers and electrical panels dangerously obstructed or blocked; unsafe walking-working surfaces; and unstable stacks of merchandise,” the report stated.
The 2022 reports
On January 31, OSHA said it initiated an inspection following an employee report of unsafe conditions at the Family Dollar store on Dunham Road in Maple Heights. OSHA noted that it issued citations for one repeat violation and four willful violations, with proposed penalties of $685,777.
After two weeks, the agency opened another inspection in February. This time, due to an employee’s complaint of water leaking through the ceiling, causing wet floors and ceiling tiles on the floor at the Lockbourne Road store in Columbus. Consequently, OSHA proposed $547,587 in penalties for one serious and one repeat violation, and four willful violations.
“In both inspections, OSHA found hazards related to, obstructed egress, unstable stacks, 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,” the report said.
Thus, after both inspections in Ohio, the inspectors proposed penalties that amounted to $1,233,364 against the company for multiple violations.
“Family Dollar and Dollar Tree stores have a long and disturbing history of putting profits above employee safety,” Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker said in a statement. “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.”
Dollar Tree, which is noted as a Fortune 500 company, has been a leading operator of discount variety stores in North America for more than 30 years, the department revealed.
With its headquarters in Virginia, the company is said to run more than 16,000 stores across the country and in certain Canadian provinces.