National discount chain Dollar Tree Stores Inc. has been cited by OSHA for allegedly willfully and repeatedly exposing workers to serious hazards at its store in Watauga, Tex.. Across the nation, Dollar Tree Stores have been cited for more than 200 safety and health violations since 2009. Proposed penalties for the latest inspection total $262,500.
“In the past five months, OSHA has issued more than $800,000 in fines to Dollar Tree Stores for the same or similar violations,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “This latest incident yet again demonstrates the company’s deliberate and ongoing refusal to effectively address hazards that have been cited multiple times at their stores across the country. OSHA will not tolerate such blatant disregard for worker safety.”
At the Watauga store, two alleged willful violations, with a penalty of $130,500, were cited for failing to ensure exit doors were kept clear and unobstructed and that products were stored in a stable and secure manner. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
Four alleged repeat violations, carrying a penalty of $132,000, were cited for failing to keep passageways clean and clear and to secure compressed gas cylinders and prevent blocking of portable fire extinguishers and electrical panels. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.
Jack Rector, OSHA’s area director in Fort Worth, weighed in, saying, “Allowing boxes weighing up to 45 pounds to be haphazardly stacked in the storage room exposes workers to crushing injuries. Failing to correct this violation and other hazards, including blocked exits, puts worker safety in jeopardy – and that is unacceptable.”
OSHA has received complaints from Dollar Tree Stores employees in 26 states since 2009, and it has cited the company for 234 safety violations in that time period. This includes willful violations found during 2014 inspections in Delaware, Massachusetts and Montana.
Dollar Tree Stores, headquartered in Chesapeake, Virginia, employs approximately 17,600 full-time and 69,800 part-time workers. OSHA began investigating the Watauga store after receiving a complaint about dangerous conditions.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of citations to comply, request an informal conference with Rector or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission.