Jan. 7, 2015
Employees at Wolcott, New York, Dollar General store face locked exit
OSHA cites discount retailer for serious and repeated safety violations
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Dollar General store employees in Wolcott could not exit* the store swiftly during a fire or emergency because of a locked emergency door in the store's back room, an Oct. 24, 2014, inspection by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration found. In 2010, OSHA cited the retail chain for the same hazard at a store in Buffalo.
"A retail store may not seem like an inherently dangerous place to work, but hazards can exist and must be addressed by the employer," said Christopher Adams, OSHA's area director in Syracuse. "When emergency exits are locked or blocked by merchandise and materials, workers can be trapped or delayed should a fire or emergency occur."
OSHA's inspection of Dollar General's location at 6010 New Hartford Ave. also found several fire extinguishers were not inspected monthly and did not have an annual maintenance check to ensure they worked. Emergency lighting in the store's back room also was inoperative, leaving employees in the darkness, which would pose a problem exiting due to the locked door.
"This is not the first time that Dollar General has been cited for this type of hazard, but it must make every effort to make sure it is the last," said Adams. "The company owes it to its employees to address these safety issues and eliminate these hazards in stores."
Dollar General was cited for two repeated violations for the blocked exit and fire extinguisher hazards and three serious violations for the remaining hazardous conditions. OSHA has proposed $55,000 in fines.
A repeated citation is issued when a substantially similar violation is found at any of an employer's facilities in federal enforcement states within five years of a previous citation. 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.
Based in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, Dollar General has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and 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 Syracuse office at 315-451-0808.
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.
Release Number: 14-2277-NEW
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