Dollar General Has "Unsafe Conditions at Stores Across the Nation," Officials Warn
The retailer has just been hit with new fines from OSHA over in-store hazards.
It's becoming harder and harder to not find yourself shopping at a dollar store these days. With these retailers expanding their physical presence to new heights and inflation still hitting hard, consumers all around the country are flocking to the most popular discount chains. But you might want to think twice before stepping into your closest Dollar General, as the company is being cited again for dangerous in-store conditions. Read on to find out why officials are now saying that Dollar General has "unsafe conditions at stores across the nation."
Dollar General has been cited in the past for dangerous store conditions.
Dollar General has been in hot water with regulators over hazards for some time now. In 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) discovered that emergency exit doors were padlocked at one of the retailer's stores in Wisconsin, and that barrel locks were placed on an emergency exit at a different location in Ohio. As a result of the hazards at these two locations, Dollar General was cited for fines of over $580,000 from OSHA.
Since last winter, Dollar General has also been forced to temporarily close several stores because of dangerous conditions. This includes a different store in Wisconsin that was shut down for several days in December after it failed a follow-up fire inspection amid customer complaints. And more recently, two North Carolina Dollar General locations were forced to temporarily close after fire inceptors "found the stores with aisle and exits blocked."
This is just a dent in the retailer's ongoing battle with inspectors, however.
But now the retailer is being hit with new fines.
Dollar General is being denounced once again. In a May 23 press release, OSHA announced that the retailer has been hit with new fines for hazards. This latest round of citations is being issued after unsafe conditions were found during inspections at nine Dollar General stores throughout Maine, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin late last year, according to the agency. And the combined penalties from these citations are adding $3.4 million in fines to Dollar General's plate.
Between Oct. and Dec. 2022, OSHA inspectors found "exit routes, doors, fire extinguishers and electrical panels blocked and unsafely stacked merchandise" at six stores in North Dakota. In the town of Minot, they even discovered that at least six employees at one Dollar General store "suffered exposure to toxic vapors … after several chemical containers ruptured and their contents mixed." During Nov. 2022, inspections also revealed blocked emergency exits at stores in Enfield, Maine; Kettering, Ohio; and Kewaunee, Wisconsin.
Officials say this is affecting Dollar General stores across the nation.
With mounting citations and fines for inspections in different states, OSHA is warning that Dollar General's dangers are clearly widespread. Since 2017, the retailer has been hit with more than $21 million in proposed penalties as the result of 240 inspections conducted at locations throughout the U.S., according to the agency.
"Dollar General continues to expose its employees to unsafe conditions at its stores across the nation," OSHA's Assistant Secretary Doug Parker said in a statement. "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."
OSHA's inspections at Dollar General stores in the country have consistently uncovered common hazards such as blocked aisles, emergency exits, fire extinguishers, and electronically panels, as well as unsafely stacked boxes. "These conditions expose employees to fire, electrical and struck-by and other hazards in violation of federal regulations," the agency warned in its press release.
But the retailer claims it is committed to safety.
Despite these ongoing problems, Dollar General is sticking to its assertion that it is doing what it can to prevent in-store hazards. "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 company said in a statement to Best Life. "We regularly review and refine our safety programs, and reinforce them through training, ongoing communication, recognition and accountability."
Dollar General added that it takes the discovery of unsafe conditions at any of its stores seriously. "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," the company explained.