Dollar General Is Under Fire for This "Serious Hazard" in Stores

This major problem puts both store employees and customers in danger.

Shopping is a fun pastime for those of us who need retail therapy, but it can also just be a weekly necessity. Dollar General stores offer something for both kinds of shoppers, selling everyday staples in addition to intriguing impulse buys, all at a very affordable price. But regardless of why you head to a store, your safety should be prioritized, and you want to feel confident that the proper precautions are in place in the unlikely event of an emergency. Unfortunately, two Dollar General locations have recently come under fire for "serious hazards" in their stores, endangering both employees and customers. Read on to find out what officials warn could pose a dangerous risk.

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Dollar General is no stranger to criticism—or investigations.

scanning barcode
Voznikevich Konstantin / Shutterstock

Dollar General has faced its fair share of backlash, including a recent report which found that some products sold at the retailer were potentially hazardous to customers. A total of 12 Dollar General products were found to have toxic chemicals when tested by the Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform and Coming Clean, Inc. Affected products were similar to those identified at Dollar Tree, which was also part of analyses, including kitchen pans.

Other reports have been unfavorable in different ways. An April report from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA & CS) identified "excessive price-scanner errors" at Dollar General locations in North Carolina. Customers were also overcharged at Walmart locations, and both stores were fined a combined total of $48.760. Now, different Dollar General locations are facing scrutiny, as well as more fines.

Stores were accused of endangering the welfare of customers and employees.

emergency exit sign
kokouu / iStock

In case of an emergency, there needs to be a way for both employees and shoppers to get out. At Dollar General stores, this may not always be the case. According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), two Dollar General stores have been cited for padlocked and blocked emergency exit doors.

"OSHA cites Dollar General stores frequently for exposing workers to serious hazards, including the use of locks at exits, which can be catastrophic in an emergency," William Donovan, OSHA Regional Administrator in Chicago, said, stressing the danger for employees who have to report to work every day.

"This company's willingness to gamble with workers' lives is disturbing and must stop before tragedy strikes," Donovan added.

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OSHA inspectors traveled to Dollar General stores in two states.

inspector with clipboard
iStock

A Dollar General store in Baldwin, Wisconsin, was subject to investigation by OSHA after being referred by a local fire department in Dec. 2021. At the store, the emergency exit doors were padlocked closed with a bike lock and a board from the inside. There were also boxes blocking the door, which would present an issue if workers or customers needed to exit in an emergency. The doors were often closed this way, store managers told the OSHA inspectors, as they didn't close properly and had remained in "disrepair" since Sept. 2021.

It was not the first time that the department had paid a visit to the Baldwin location: Officials apparently conducted 11 inspections over the course of 2021. On six occasions, they called for the store to be closed due to the "hazardous conditions," the OSHA press release stated.

Another Dollar General store in Seville, Ohio, was inspected on Jan. 11, 2022, at which time OSHA investigators found barrel locks on the double-door emergency exit. To open these doors, you would need "special knowledge and additional time," according to OSHA, which obviously would not be ideal in an emergency.

Both stores were slapped with hefty fines.

exterior of a dollar general store
Shutterstock/Jonathan Weiss

As a result of these violations and the danger that they pose to Dollar General employees and shoppers, both stores now have to deal with large fines from OSHA. For the Baldwin, Wisconsin location, OSHA issued four willful citations and proposed penalties totaling $435,081. The Seville, Ohio store was cited for one willful violation and hit with a smaller—but still costly—proposed fine of $145,027.

These stores may be the most recent to come under fire, but they are certainly not the only ones. According to the OSHA press release, there have been "numerous repeat and willful citations" at Dollar General locations across the country. Issues with exit routes, fire extinguishers, as well as blocked electrical panels, are among the violations that OSHA inspectors "routinely identify," the agency said. In fact, Adam Zager, director of risk management for Dollar General, has signed settlements on behalf of the company "promising to resolve similar violations at its stores."

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