June 3, 2022
Padlocked, blocked emergency exit doors endangered workers
at Wisconsin, Ohio Dollar General stores
Safety inspections find company’s history of putting workers at risk continues
CHICAGO – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited two more Dollar General stores for endangering the safety of their employees, continuing the company’s long history of workplace safety violations nationwide.
In Baldwin, Wisconsin, OSHA inspectors responded to a referral from local fire officials in December 2021 and found emergency exit doors closed and padlocked on the inside with a bike lock and a board. Boxes of merchandise blocked the exit. In an emergency, these conditions would prevent workers and others from exiting the store through these emergency exits.
Store managers told OSHA inspectors the exit doors needed repairs to close properly and were frequently padlocked and blocked with a board while employees were present. OSHA determined that Dollar General allowed the door to remain in disrepair since September 2021. Fire officials inspected the store 11 times in 2021, and ordered the facility closed six times due to hazardous conditions.
OSHA issued four willful citations for blocking emergency routes, exits and fire extinguishers and failing to leave adequate space around electrical panels. The agency proposed penalties of $435,081.
A similar inspection was conducted at a Dollar General store in Seville, Ohio, on Jan. 11, 2022. OSHA inspectors discovered barrel locks on the inside of a double–door emergency exit, which requires special knowledge and additional time to open and might prevent a safe and quick exit in an emergency. The agency cited the store for one willful violation and proposed $145,027 in penalties.
“OSHA cites Dollar General stores frequently for exposing workers to serious hazards, including the use of locks at exits, which can be catastrophic in an emergency,” explained OSHA Regional Administrator William Donovan in Chicago. “This company’s willingness to gamble with workers’ lives is disturbing and must stop before tragedy strikes.”
Since 2017, OSHA has issued Dollar General stores numerous repeat and willful citations at locations nationwide. Inspectors routinely identify violations related to obstructed exit routes, portable fire extinguishers and blocked electrical panels. On several occasions, Dollar General Corp.’s Director of Risk Management Adam Zager has signed settlement agreements with OSHA, promising on behalf of the company, to resolve similar violations at its stores.
Founded in 1939, the Goodlettsville, Tennessee-based Dollar General Corp., operates more than 18,000 stores in 46 states.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with each of OSHA’s area directors, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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Release Number: 22-938-CHI
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