Dollar General "Jeopardizes the Safety of Everyone in Their Stores," Official Warns
The discount retailer has just been hit with new OSHA citations for dangerous hazards.
Over the past few years, Dollar General has significantly grown its physical presence across the U.S. The retailer now has over 19,000 store in the country, and it is still in the process of opening even more locations. At a time where everything is more expensive, having more discount stores around may seem like a good thing. But some disagree, as Dollar General is being cited once again for dangerous conditions. Read on to find out why one official is now warning that this retailer "jeopardizes the safety of everyone in their stores."
Dollar General has been cited in the past for dangerous store conditions.
Dollar General has been locked in a continuous battle with regulators recently. Since last year, the retailer has been forced to temporarily close several stores because of dangerous conditions. This includes a Dollar General store in Wisconsin that was shut down for several days in December after it failed a follow-up fire inspection amid customer complaints, and two North Carolina locations that were forced to temporarily close after fire inceptors "found the stores with aisle and exits blocked."
In late May, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also reported that it was issuing citations against Dollar General for unsafe conditions found during inspections at nine stores throughout Maine, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin at the end of 2022. The discount retailer chalked up a whopping $3.4 million in fines from the agency for the hazards found in these stores.
The retailer is now facing new fines.
The discount retailer is not off the hook for hazards yet—even in the slightest. The penalties are just continuing to rack up for Dollar General. OSHA has already issued two separate reports about new Dollar General citations this month. In a June 2 press release, the agency announced that it had just issued more fines against the company following inspections at three Dollar General locations in Alabama and Florida late last year. From Oct. to Dec. 2022, inspectors found concerning hazards like blocked exit routes, unsafely stacked items, and inaccessible fire extinguishers at stores in Addison and Haleyville, Alabama, as well as in Astor, Florida.
Then just a few days later, OSHA announced another set of penalties for Dollar General in a June 5 press release. These are based on a Dec. 2022 inspection at a store in Larnesa, Texas, where inspectors also "found exit routes and walkways blocked and merchandise unsafely stacked," according to the agency. Dollar General garnered $294,646 in fines for four repeat violations at its Larnesa location, and a total of $1,098,292 in penalties for eight repeat violations following its inspections at the three stores in Alabama and Florida.
One official says Dollar General "jeopardizes safety" for everyone.
The citations mounting from last year are just a drop in the bucket in the OSHA and Dollar General's history: Workplace safety inspections have been happening at the retailer's stores for years now. Since 2017, the company has been issued more than $21 million in fines for over 240 inspections across the U.S., according to the agency.
"In one workplace after another, our investigators continue to find the same hazards at Dollar General stores," OSHA Area Director Joel Batiz in Birmingham, Alabama, said in a statement. "The Dollar General Corporation needs to make changes to address the recurring violations before there is a tragedy."
But although OSHA oversees employee safety, some say these hazards are not just a concern for the retailer's workers—instead, shoppers could be at risk, too. "Dollar General's pattern of blocking emergency exits and pathways with boxes of merchandise, rolling carts, and other materials jeopardizes the safety of everyone in their stores," OSHA Area Director Elizabeth Linda Routh in Lubbock, Texas, warned in a statement.
These commonly found hazards at Dollar General locations in different states can "make it hard to exit the store quickly in a crisis," according to Routh. "These conditions must be corrected immediately," she said.
The company continues to claim it is committed to safety.
Dollar General's history with hazardous conditions is so lengthy that OSHA added the retailer to its Severe Violator Enforcement Program in 2022. This program "concentrates resources on inspecting employers cited for willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations and for showing indifference to their legal obligations to provide a safe and healthy workplace," the agency explained in its June 5 press release.
Despite this, Dollar General continues to maintain the stance that its company has a commitment to safety. When Best Life reached out to Dollar General about the newest OSHA citations, the company sent the same standard statement that it has given following past violations. "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," the retailer said.
Dollar General continued, "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."