Dollar General fined millions of dollars for potentially deadly working conditions

Dollar General was fined millions of dollars after the cooperation exposed employees to unsafe and potentially deadly hazards across several of its stores nationwide, including a Miami Valley location.

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Nine inspections in four states found Dollar General and Dolgencorp LLC, a subsidiary of its parent company, exposed workers to obstructed exits and fire or electrical hazards that carried a total of $3.4 million in new penalties.

The inspections looked into locations in Maine, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin in 2022.

The workplace safety failures commonly found aisles, emergency exits, fire extinguishers, and electrical panels blocked by merchandise or boxes stacked hazardously, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Labor stated. The blockage created dangerous fire hazards that could potentially block people in during an emergency.

“Dollar General continues to expose its employees to unsafe conditions at its stores across the nation,” Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker said. “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.”

The findings of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspections in October, November and December 2022 in Maine, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin included the following:

  • Kettering, Ohio: OSHA inspectors at a Dollar General store in Kettering, Ohio, found exit routes, fire extinguishers and electrical panels blocked by merchandise and other materials in November 2022. The agency issued citations for three repeat violations for fire and electrical hazards with $270,116 in proposed penalties.

  • Enfield, Maine: Responding to a complaint in November 2022, OSHA found rolling containers and boxes of products obstructing or completely blocking access to an emergency exit. The agency also found carts clogging aisles and preventing quick access to fire extinguishers, and some goods stacked unsafely up to 6 feet high in front of and around an electrical panel. In addition, inspectors noted the store had not visually inspected fire extinguishers at least monthly, as required. OSHA proposed $321,419 in new penalties after five repeat violations.

  • Minot, North Dakota: OSHA inspectors learned at least six store employees suffered exposure to toxic vapors—three of whom sought medical treatment—after several chemical containers ruptured and their contents mixed in December 2022. In this instance, the agency cited Dollar General for not providing employees with adequate respiratory protection and personal protective equipment and for failing to train employees on safe handling of hazardous chemicals and proper clean-up. OSHA identified 32 violations in a two-month period in fall 2022 and proposed $2.5 million in penalties.

  • Kewaunee, Wisconsin: Responding to a complaint of unsafe working conditions, OSHA investigators discovered exit routes, fire extinguishers and electrical panels blocked by unsafely stacked merchandise and other materials in November 2022. Citations were issued for four repeat and four willful violations for unsafe electrical cords, fire extinguishers that were not inspected, crushing hazards, and conditions that would prevent employees from exiting the store safely in an emergency. OSHA has proposed $367,216 in penalties.

Dollar General has received fines in excess of $21 million since 2017 for various issues after 240 inspections.