Dollar General Slammed for Dangerous Conditions in Stores: "Low-Cost, Higher Risk"
New OSHA inspections have led to more citations and fines against the dollar store chain.
Inflation may have slowed, but at a time when prices are still on the higher side, Dollar General continues attracting customers with its everyday discounts and already low prices. But these savings might not be enough to keep shoppers coming back. Dollar General has faced substantial criticism in recent months, earning backlash for overcharging shoppers and leaving stores understaffed. Now, the discount retailer is being slammed for something else: dangerous store conditions. Read on to find out why officials are once again raising major concerns about ongoing safety issues at Dollar General.
Dollar General is facing new fines for store conditions.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently conducted inspections in four different Dollar General stores in Florida and Georgia, according to a March 13 press release. From Aug. to Sept. 2022, officials opened inspections at two of the retailer's stores in Ocala, Florida, and another two in Columbus, Georgia.
Numerous "unsafe conditions" were discovered at these locations, prompting OSHA to issue fines against Dollar General. As a result, the company is facing a total of $710,974 in proposed penalties for five repeat violations in Ocala, and a total of $319,220 in proposed penalties for three repeat violations in Columbus.
In a statement to Best Life, a spokesperson for Dollar General said, "As a growing retailer serving thousands of communities across the country, Dollar General is committed to providing a safe work environment for its associates and shopping experience for its customers. We regularly review and refine our safety programs, and reinforce them through training, ongoing communication, recognition and accountability. When we learn of situations where we have failed to live up to this commitment, we work to timely address the issue and ensure that the company's expectations regarding safety are clearly communicated, understood and implemented."
Several in-store dangers were discovered during the recent inspections.
The investigations at Dollar General stores in Georgia and Florida uncovered multiple violations from the company.
One store in Ocala on Marion Oaks Manor was cited for two repeat violations that OSHA categorizes as "serious." This included the store's emergency exits being blocked by garbage bags and rolltainers, as well as portable fire extinguishers not being easily accessible if needed.
The other Dollar General in Ocala—located on 58th Avenue—was cited for three serious violations. Similar to the Marion Oaks Manor store, this location also had blocked emergency exits and not easily accessible fire extinguishers. But the 58th Ave store was also cited due to the fact that employees were not able to open one of the building's exit doors from the inside without a key.
Over in Columbus, a Dollar General on Victory Drive was penalized for two serious violations. This location also prevented employees from opening an exit door from the inside without a key, but it also failed to "ensure effective protection against struck-by hazards" due to merchandise being stacked to unstable heights.
The other Dollar General in Columbia—located on 13th Avenue—was fined for just one serious violation, however. "The employer did not ensure that all places of employment, passageways, storerooms, service rooms, and walking-working surfaces are kept in a clean, orderly, and sanitary condition," OSHA wrote in its report for this store.
Officials say Dollar General represents "low-cost, higher risk."
OSHA said that while Dollar General portrays its chain as "America's neighborhood general store," its disregard over dangerous store conditions tells a different story. As one of the nation's largest discount retailers, the company demonstrates "low-cost, higher risk," according to the government agency.
From Feb. 1, 2022 through Jan. 31, 2023, OSHA said it has issued citations in 23 different Dollar General store inspections across Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. This alone has resulted in a total of nearly $7.5 million penalties for the company.
"Exposing employees and others to these hazards can be dangerous, especially in an emergency," Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA's regional administrator in Atlanta, said in a statement. "Dollar General is well aware of federal requirements, but they continue to ignore their legal responsibilities to protect their employees at stores throughout the nation."
The company has been cited for unsafe conditions in other parts of the country.
It's not just these locations either. In Ocala and Columbus, inspectors "catalogued many of the same violations Dollar General has refused to correct at its stores throughout the nation," according to the new press release.
Since 2017, OSHA has fined the company over $15 million in more than 180 inspections nationwide "for numerous willful, repeat and serious workplace safety violations related to unsafe conditions."
Dollar General has even had to shut down some of its stores because of these issues. As Insider reported in Feb. 2023, various local officials across the U.S. have forced the temporary closure of multiple different locations in recent months due to overcrowded merchandise creating fire hazards.
Two Dollar General stores were ordered to close in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, after inspections found that aisles were so cluttered that there was less than 36 inches of space for customers and employees to move through—the minimum required by law, Christopher Key, public safety director for Pittsylvania County, told Insider.
In regards to stores being closed for unsafe conditions, a spokesperson for Dollar General previously told Best Life that the company is "committed to providing a safe work environment for its associates and shopping experience for its customers."