General Merchandise/HBC

Dollar General Is a ‘Severe Violator’ of Workplace Safety Rules: Report

OSHA confirms settlement discussions with discounter after fast-growing company has received more than $15.5 million in penalties
dollar general
Photograph: Shutterstock

Dollar General is discussing a settlement with federal workplace safety officials following a long history of violations, the agency confirmed Wednesday.

The news follows a New York Times report this week that said that Dollar General was the first company to be added to the newly expanded version Labor Department’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program after years of workplace safety violations that have incurred more than $15.5 million in penalties from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Violations have included blocked fire exits, boxes of merchandise stacked too high and cluttered aisles.

“OSHA is in mandatory settlement proceedings before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission pursuant to Commission rules,” the agency said via email to CSP sister publication Winsight Grocery Business, declining to answer further questions.  

Dollar General’s ongoing safety violations have been well-documented by OSHA. In November, the fast-growing retailer received $2.7 million in proposed fines from the agency after workplace safety issues were found at stores in Alabama, Florida and Georgia. Those fines came less than a month after OSHA presented Dollar General with more than $1.6 million in penalties in the same states.

Dollar General has historically declined to comment on the safety violations.

But OSHA has been outspoken about its findings.

“Dollar General’s growing record of disregard for safety measures makes it abundantly clear that the company puts profit before people,” OSHA Regional Administrator Kurt Petermeyer in Atlanta said in a statement in January. “These violations are preventable, and failing to prevent them shows a blatant disregard for the workers on whom they depend to keep their stores operating. OSHA continues to make every effort to hold Dollar General accountable for its failures.”

Goodlettsville, Tennessee-based Dollar General recently opened its 19,000th U.S. store and is beginning to expand into Mexico. The retailer employs more than 150,000 workers.

OSHA has long had a Severe Violator Enforcement Program to target companies with lengthy records of safety complaints, injuries and deaths. Last year, the agency broadened the program to include any type of company that “willfully or repeatedly violated safety standards,” the Times reported.

“A business model should not be built on violating the law,” Anita Dunn, a senior advisor to President Biden, told the Times. “The reality is that workers in this country are entitled to certain protections by law, and this administration will enforce that.”

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