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Dollar Tree Discounts Employee Health and Safety Once Again

March 5, 2020
The company has racked up millions in OSHA fines over the past five years.

Update 3/6/2020: OSHA has cited Dollar Tree Stores Inc. following additional complaints at a store in Boston. 

For the second time in one week, the national discount retailer has been found responsible for numerous repeat hazards.

"OSHA continues to receive complaints about unsafe working conditions at Dollar Tree stores across the nation," said Loren Sweatt, principal deputy assistant secretary for occupational safety and health. "Workers should not be subjected to the same hazards previously identified and cited. This employer is required to follow the law, and comply with regulations that protect workers from injuries and fatalities."

A complaint prompted an OSHA investigation into the store where inspectors discovered obstructed exit routes, the risk of struck-by hazards caused by unstable stacks of merchandise and over-stocked materials, and electrical hazards from blocked working space around electrical panels.

As a result, Dollar Tree faces $523,745 in penalties. Inspectors cited the retailer with two willful and three repeat violations.

3/5/2020:

Dollar Tree Stores Inc. continues to put the health and safety of its workers in jeopardy.

The Chesapeake, Va.-based discount retailer has once again willfully exposed its employees to exit and storage hazards, this time at Bethlehem, Penn. store.

OSHA inspectors arrived at the location following a complaint the agency received about blocked emergency exits, unsecured compressed gas cylinders and unsanitary bathrooms. Materials reportedly were stacked unsafely throughout the store, and electrical panels were not maintained.

The investigation substantiated this claim, and Dollar Tree was cited for two willful, one repeat and two other-than-serious violations, a total of $296,861 in penalties.

Dollar Tree operates more than 15,000 stores in 48 states and Canada and employs about 176,000 full-time and part-time workers.

Loren Sweatt, OSHA principal deputy assistant secretary of labor, stated that OSHA will continue to be persistent in keeping Dollar Tree accountable under the OSH Act. 

The company's willful neglect for employee health and safety goes back more than a decade.

In September 2019, the agency cited the company for blocked walkways and exit routes and unsafe storage of merchandise at four Idaho store locations. Proposed fines for that case reached $898,682.

"Dollar Tree Stores has a history of exposing their employees to safety and health hazards," Sweatt previously stated to the press. "Improper storage of merchandise creates unnecessary risks for employees, while blocked exits pose serious risks to the safety of employees and customers in an emergency."

Three repeat violations were given to Dollar Tree in October 2019. Those fines amounted to $208,368. Similar violations were found at locations in Bronx, Amityville, Lindenhurst, and Yonkers, New York, in 2014 and 2015. 

In 2015, the retailer reached a corporate-wide settlement agreement to the tune of $825,000 as a result of 13 different inspections. In that case, the company promised it would implement safeguards to protect workers at Dollar Tree stores nationwide from hazards related to blocked emergency exits, obstructed access to exit routes and electrical equipment and improper material storage.

Employee injuries have been a direct result of unsafe conditions. Workers have reported being injured from falling boxes as a result of the company willfully disregarding safety and health.

Between 2009 and 2014, OSHA received complaints from Dollar Tree employees in 26 states and cited the company for 234 safety violations.

About the Author

Stefanie Valentic

Stefanie Valentic was formerly managing editor of EHS Today, and is currently editorial director of Waste360.

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