OSHA fines Dollar Tree Stores $177,800 for exposing employees
to serious safety hazards at Massachusetts store
Virginia-based discount retailer cited for similar hazards at other stores nationwide
BRAINTREE, Mass. - Employees at the Dollar Tree Stores Inc. location in Boston's Roslindale neighborhood repeatedly faced the dangers of blocked exits and hazardous conditions in the store's stockroom, according to an inspection by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Dollar Tree Stores faces a total of $177,800 in proposed fines following a complaint inspection by OSHA's Braintree Area Office.
"This case reflects this company's deliberate and ongoing refusal to effectively address hazards that have been cited multiple times at their stores across the country," said Brenda Gordon, OSHA's area director for Boston and southeastern Massachusetts. "On his initial visit to the store, the OSHA inspector informed management of the hazards and the need to correct them. Yet, on subsequent visits, the inspector found these hazardous conditions again and again, showing an unacceptable disregard for employee health and safety."
In its December 2013 inspection, OSHA found merchandise in the store's stockroom was consistently stacked in an unstable and unsecured manner that exposed workers to crushing injuries should the stacks collapse. Emergency exit routes were also consistently blocked by store inventory, shopping carriages, a conveyor and garbage. In addition, the store failed to maintain a means of access to an electrical control panel so that employees could turn off the store's electrical power in the event of an emergency.
For these conditions, OSHA cited Dollar Tree Stores for three willful violations with $174,500 in fines. 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.
OSHA also cited the company for one serious violation, with a $3,300 fine, for allowing trash and garbage to accumulate throughout the stockroom, creating tripping and exit hazards for the workers. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
The citations can be viewed at here*.
Dollar Tree Stores has been inspected 153 times nationally over 19 years and was cited for 453 violations of OSHA standards. Within the last five years, Dollar Tree Stores was cited 51 times for the same violations being cited willfully at the Roslindale store. Earlier this year, Dollar Tree Stores was cited for similar violations at stores in Wilmington, Delaware and Missoula, Montana.
"Placing employees repeatedly at risk of serious injuries or death is serial behavior for this company, and it must change," said Robert Hooper, OSHA's acting regional administrator for New England. "A large employer such as Dollar Tree Stores has a responsibility to its employees to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for workers at all of its more than 5,000 locations."
Headquartered in Chesapeake, Virginia, Dollar Tree Stores is a large single-price-point retailer, operating 5,080 stores in 48 states and five Canadian provinces as of May 3.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its latest citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet informally with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Braintree Area Office at 617-565-6924.
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 working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The department's Reasonable Accommodation Resource Center converts departmental information and documents into alternative formats, which include Braille and large print. For alternative format requests, please contact the department at (202) 693-7828 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (federal relay).
* Accessibility Assistance Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.