Large retailer has been violating safety codes for years.
The Department of Labor (DOL) announced that the Dollar General has been “putting its more than 150,000 workers” lives at risk for many years, saying, “At the U.S. Department of Labor, the company is recognized for its long history of violations and repeated failures to protect its workers from on-the-job hazards. Dollar General continues to put workers at risk.”
Dollar General Corporation is a the second-largest chain of retail discount stores and is headquartered in Goodlettsville, Tennessee. It is well-known for its inexpensive prices and is comparable to other discount and dollar stores. It keeps prices low by keeping overhead costs low, so stores are equipped only with “metal shelves, strip lighting, and low-cost signage” according to business insiders. They’re also typically short-staffed with one or two workers operating a store at any one time.
As of October 2021, Dollar General operated 18,000 stores across the U.S. It has been known for not only lesser safety violations, but crimes such as robberies and smash and grabs because of the thinly staffed stores, according to police.
Since 2016, the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recommended more than “$3.3 million in penalties for safety violation” at Dollar General stores, typically for issues such as “blocked electrical panels, obstructed exits as well as forklift, housekeeping and sanitation issues,” according to OSHA records. Business analysts have contended that the chain pays one of the lowest worker hourly wages in the nation.
“Dollar General has a long history of disregarding safety measures to prevent serious injury or death in the event of a fire or other emergency,” Assistant Secretary for OSHA, Doug Parker, said. “This company’s troubled history of workplace safety violations must come to an end.”
This summer, a federal inspection at a Dollar General in Mobile, Alabama, found the store “again failed to keep the main storeroom orderly to allow workers to exit safely during an emergency. The store also exposed workers to slip and trip hazards and being struck by falling boxes.” In general, the stores stock a hodgepodge of items that can be disorganized, shoved close together, and seemingly stocked without regard for employees or customers. Boxes are piled high and many of the stores are not kept up, according to insiders. Again, it is difficult to ensure that the stores are maintained when there are only one or two workers present.
According to many reports, the company continues to operate locations that are small in size, poorly organized and with serious code violations. “At least six Dollar General employees have died during armed robberies from 2016 to 2020,” according to news and police reports.
In December, OSHA recommended more than $321,000 in fines for the violations Dollar General has been cited for, an incentive for changing the way it does business, and it was given fifteen days to comply. It is unclear whether the retailer has responded to this request. It also has the option to challenge it and more information will likely be released in the months to come.