A federal workplace safety inspection at another Dollar General store, this time in North Texas, found exit routes and walkways blocked and merchandise unsafely stacked — conditions that, according to the inspection, exposed employees and others to fire hazards and potential injuries.
The store, in Lamesa, Texas, has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with the administration’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration previously issued citations to this same store for four repeat violations and proposed over $294,000 in penalties after an inspection in December 2022.
Since 2017, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Dollar General Corp. in more than 240 inspections and proposed penalties of more than $21 million.
“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,” said Occupational Safety and Health Administration Area Director Elizabeth Linda Routh. “Poor housekeeping can lead employees to suffer needless injuries and make it hard to exit the store quickly in a crisis. These conditions must be corrected immediately.”
The findings at this store, in Lamesa, are similar to those found at many of the company’s stores in recent years. Most recently, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration proposed nearly $4.5 million in penalties following inspections in Alabama, Florida, Maine, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin following inspections from October through December 2022.
In 2022, the administration added Dollar General to its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which 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.
Last week, Dollar General shareholders passed a resolution that will create an independent audit, according to CNBC.
The proposal, presented by an activist firm, called for a third-party investigation which would look at the company’s policies and practices and how they impact worker safety. The audit is supposed to include a focus on factors that have created unsafe working conditions, including understaffing.
Members of Dollar General’s board of directors told shareholders to reject the move, and there is no indication the discount retailer will execute an audit and/or make changes to improve worker safety, CNBC reported. The company said it conducts safety checks and audits at stores all year long.