Killdeer Dollar General store slammed with "repeat-serious" safety violations

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May 26—KILLDEER, N.D. — Dollar General, a prominent retailer serving communities nationwide, has recently come under scrutiny for repeat workplace safety violations. Among the six stores in North Dakota cited for violations by the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Killdeer location was highlighted for violations.

On Apr. 26, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued five citations to the Killdeer store, all classified as "repeat-serious," resulting in a proposed penalty of $549,147.

OSHA outlined the violations as follows:

* The main storage room, receiving room, and store aisles were in a disorderly state due to excessive merchandise, posing slip and trip hazards.

* The emergency exit was obstructed by various merchandise and rolling storage containers.

* Portable fire extinguishers were not easily accessible or properly mounted.

* The storage and receiving rooms had boxes and loose materials stacked in an unbalanced and unstable manner, posing a risk of falling on employees. Products were stacked up to seven feet high and leaning.

* There was an electrical hazard involving an electrical panel in the main storage room.

Reports from the State Fire Marshal's office of the North Dakota Attorney General detailed additional violations found during inspections on Nov. 3, 2022, and Jan. 12, 2023. These violations included snow and ice accumulation obstructing a door, an unserviced fire extinguisher placed on the floor, and flammable or combustible liquids stored within five feet of an exit.

West Dunn County Fire Chief Ryan Hauck and Deputy State Fire Marshal Kaylyn Lucas conducted the inspections.

"There were exits blocked and the electrical panel did not have three feet of clearance. They were just overrun with inventory... They get overwhelmed with stuff to try to put away," Hauck said, acknowledging the struggles of the labor market. "Any company can't seem to get enough help to support their cause of what they're trying to do in the community. So I'm sure that factors into it as well."

He also noted the annual fire extinguisher service inspections weren't being done on time. When asked if he's been back since the last inspection in November, Hauck said when he has noticed improvements the hazardous conditions return not long after.

"There's been a few walkthroughs, some talks about things that need to be brought back up and taken care of. The store would actually do a, I'll say decent or a better job of it. But then they would get slammed with inventory which would block the aisles again, block their exits and create issues," Hauck said.

In response to a request for comment, Dollar General's public relations office provided the following statement via email: "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 a pleasant shopping experience for its customers. We continuously review and refine our safety programs, reinforcing them through training, ongoing communication, recognition, and accountability. Whenever we identify instances where we have fallen short of this commitment, we take prompt action to address the issue and ensure that safety expectations are clearly communicated, understood, and implemented."

During a visit to the Killdeer Dollar General store on May 25, The Press discovered multiple safety hazards remain.

North Dakota State Fire Marshal Doug Nelson emphasized the importance of adhering to fire safety codes when interviewed by The Press.

"Fire safety is important. And it's important, not only for the business owners, but for the public and for the employees as well. Everybody deserves to be in a safe location," Nelson said, explaining some of the most common issues he sees. "I'd say just in general, we run into, you know, locked exits or storage in exits, issues with fire protection systems and maintaining those, electrical issues — those types of things, storage to close to ignition sources or hot items."