- Dollar General is accused of repeatedly risking workers’ safety by the Department of Labor (DOL).
- The discount chain was fined $322,000 this week because of this.
- The DoL said the chain has repeatedly failed to protect its workers.
The Department of Labor issued a strongly worded press release this week, accusing Dollar General of repeatedly putting its workers’ safety at risk and issuing it with a $322,000 fine.
“At the US 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,” the department said in the news release.
“Typical violations include blocked electrical panels, obstructed exits, forklift, housekeeping, and sanitation violations. Each of these violations represent hazardous and unsafe conditions, placing workers at risk of injury,” it added.
A spokesperson for Dollar General was not immediately available to comment when contacted by Insider.
The Department of Labor said that in its inspection of one of its stores in Mobile, Alabama, this summer, that it found several safety violations including trip hazards and blocked emergency exits.
These violations resulted in $321,827 of proposed fines, it said, bringing the total number of proposed fines put to the company by the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration to more than $3.3 million since 2016.
“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,” Doug Parker, assistant secretary for Occupational Safety and Health, said in the statement.
“This company’s troubled history of workplace safety violations must come to an end, and OSHA will make every effort to hold them accountable for their failures,” Parker added.
The company was given 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to either comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, according to the press release.
Dollar General, the largest discount chain in the US, is known for its rock-bottom prices. It keeps prices low by keeping overhead costs down. Stores have a bare-bones design: metal shelves, strip lighting, and low-cost signage to offer a no-frills shopping experience. They’re also typically thinly staffed, with one or two workers operating a store at any one time. This can make it harder to keep stores in order and serve customers.
Critics say it also makes these stores more vulnerable to crime as it’s easier to break in and overwhelm the staff, thus putting workers at risk.
Kennedy Smith, senior researcher at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a nonprofit that advocates for community businesses described Dollar General stores as “crime magnets.”
It’s hard to determine whether they definitively attract more crime than other types of stores and there is no comprehensive source that tracks exactly how many robberies take place inside stores. However, Smith said her perception is that it’s easier for someone to rob a dollar store than to rob a Walmart, which has more staff and, often, security guards that dollar stores rarely have, she said.