COLUMBUS, OH – A complaint of unsafe work conditions brought federal safety inspectors to a Columbus, Ohio, Dollar Tree store where their findings – employees exposed fire hazards and in danger of unsafely stored and stacked boxes of merchandise falling on them – mirror those violations identified at many other U.S. locations operated by one of the nation’s largest discount retailers.
As of January 2023, there are 70 inspections by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration open at 70 Dollar Tree Inc. locations nationwide. The violations found in Columbus in August 2022 continue the company’s lengthy history of workplace safety failures. Since 2017, federal and state OSHA programs have identified more than 300 violations in more than 500 inspections at the company’s Dollar Tree and Family Dollar locations.
In many instances, OSHA inspectors typically discover exit routes, fire extinguishers and electrical panels dangerously obstructed or blocked; unsafe walking-working areas; and merchandise stacked unsafely at Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores.
“Repeatedly our inspectors find similar hazards at Dollar Tree stores exposing workers to risk of injury from stacked merchandise and blocked aisles and exit ways,” said Occupational Safety and Health Area Director Larry Johnson, in Columbus, Ohio. “They need to stop putting safety on the back shelf, before any of its workers is seriously hurt or unable to safely exit in an emergency.”
Following its Columbus inspection, OSHA issued citations to Dollar Tree Inc. for the following repeat violations:
Allowing wheeled carts, large boxes and merchandise to block storeroom walkways and work areas, creating trip, fall and fire hazards.
Electrical panels obstructed by stacked merchandise, creating electrical and fire hazards.
Unsecured and unstable freight stacked over 6 feet high, putting workers at risk of being struck by falling boxes.
OSHA proposed $294,657 in penalties to the Columbus store that employs 10 workers.
Founded in 1986, Dollar Tree Inc. is a leading operator of more than 16,000 discount variety stores throughout North America in 48 states and five Canadian provinces. Headquartered in Chesapeake, Virginia, the company is supported by a nationwide logistics network, and has more than 193,000 employees. A publicly traded company, Dollar Tree Inc. company reported gross profit of $7.7 billion in 2021.
Dollar Tree Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.
Ed. note: The correct amount of the proposed penalties is $294,657 not $319,220 as originally announced.