CNBC reports that Dollar General is in settlement talks with federal regulators after being labeled a “severe violator” of workplace safety rules.
A Dollar General spokesperson told CNBC that the discount retailer regularly reviews and refines its safety programs, “and reinforce them through training, ongoing communication, recognition and accountability.”
The spokesperson added that when Dollar General learns of situations that fail to meet this commitment, “We work to address the issue and ensure the company’s expectations regarding safety are clearly communicated, understood and implemented.”
In January 2023, OSHA cited Dollar General for blocked emergency exits and merchandise stored unsafely. In June 2022, OSHA inspectors found stores in Middleburg and Green Cove Springs, Florida, had merchandise blocking exit routes, exposing workers to fire and entrapment hazards. OSHA issued citations for two repeat violations, with $196,438 in proposed penalties.
A month later in July, OSHA inspectors found merchandise blocking exit routes at a Dollar General store in Double Springs, Alabama, noting that boxes and merchandise were stockpiled in an unstable manner. OSHA issued citations for two repeat violations, with $205,117 in proposed penalties.
OSHA inspections at 19 stores in Alabama, Florida and Georgia identified dozens of similar violations.
Since 2017, OSHA has issued more than $15 million in fines and cited Dollar General Corp. and Dolgencorp for repeat and serious workplace safety violations related to unsafe conditions in more than 180 inspections nationwide.
Bloomberg reports that U.S. regulators believe Dollar General’s workplace issues are systemic and not a few isolated incidents.
“This is an indication of a business model issue,” said Doug Parker, assistant secretary for occupational safety and health at the Department of Labor. “We have had enough experience with this company that we know this is not a function of just a handful of stores. This is a broader problem that’s going to have to be addressed at the C-Suite level, not by local and regional safety directors.”
Earlier this month Dollar General CEO Jeff Owen said the company plans to invest about $100 million in its stores this year, with a large portion going towards increasing working hours. During an earnings call, he said the company will “support our expectations regarding consistent store standards while further enhancing the associate and customer experience.”