OSHA Takes Action Against Dollar General
In a post earlier this year I asked, Is Dollar General An Unsafe Work Environment? I wrote that post after OSHA issued over $300,000 in citations due to safety issues at one of the company’s Alabama stores.
Over the years, I’ve represented numerous Dollar General employees who were injured on-the-job. In my past cases, these employees were far, far overworked. They functioned in an unsafe and understaffed environment. They were subjected to daily tasks that put them at risk of serious personal injury. I’ve represented Dollar General employees with work comp claims caused by falling from unsafe heights, tripping over store hazards, climbing into store dumpsters as required, falling from dangerous ladders and unloading heavy truckloads of merchandise with little help. Some of these workers suffer permanent, disabling injuries that altered their lives.
In a press release just days ago, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) dropped the hammer on Dollar General. When OSHA issues a press release with this title, you know things are serious:
Profit Over People: Alarming Trend Continues At Dollar General Stores Where Seven Southeast Inspections Again Find Willful Violations
You can click the link and read the full press release at OSHA’s website. Keep in mind the press release uses the word “willful.” We are not talking about a little negligence or a simple mistake. We are talking about a company that continues to knowingly choose risk over safety. Here are a few facts from the article:
- Federal inspectors have issued citations against Dollar General for putting its workers at serious risk of injury at store locations in Alabama, Florida and Georgia, in the amount of $2,777,640.00. That’s almost $3 Million in citations, an unheard of amount.
- Since 2017, Dollar General has received more than $12.3 Million in penalties for numerous willful, repeat and serious workplace safety violations.
- In the last five years, OSHA has found numerous unsafe conditions exposing workers to the possibility of being struck by falling merchandise, being trapped, or being unable to exit the store safely in an emergency, in more than 180 inspections nationwide!
- From April through June 2022, OSHA found continued serious safety violations at stores in Alabama similar to issues at other stores involved in pending litigation. Because of this, Dollar General was included in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
Wow! For decades, OSHA has been underfunded. What does that mean? It means OSHA cannot do the number of inspections needed to keep our workplaces safe. For OSHA to find this level of danger with its limited resources and limited inspections, it begs the question — How much more dangerous is Dollar General?
I’ll give you one example from another case I had in Huntsville where a Dollar General store manager suffered disabling injuries and permanent, chronic pain. This manager suffered her first injury when Dollar General required her to climb into the dumpster and pack down boxes. This was a frequently required task. The company did not like to empty its dumpsters because it cost money. Instead, employees were routinely required to climb into the dumpster to pack it down. My client suffered an injury which required surgery while trying to perform the task. But, the next accident was much worse. It led to her disability. In the second accident, she was required to retrieve a toy high above the shelves. The store contained fully stocked shelves. So full, merchandise was even stacked on top of other merchandise on top of the shelves. Clearly, this presented a hazard to both workers and customers of falling merchandise. My client had to retrieve a toy 10-12 feet above the floor, using only an 8 foot tall ladder. While trying to reach for the item, she fell to the hard concrete floor below. Dollar General did not provide help for the job. Dollar General did not provide safe equipment for the job. After her injury, Dollar General fought all the way through trial before providing her simple workers’ compensation benefits as required by Alabama law. Is this any way to treat the workers who keep your stores running?
I provided that story just as one example. Our family members, friends and neighbors deserve safe working conditions. When OSHA issues a press statement starting with the phrase, profits over people, it’s serious. We should always expect people to be first. We should demand companies like Dollar General do the same.
The Alabama accident and injury attorneys at Blackwell Law Firm represent injured workers statewide. Our lawyers have tried cases to verdict in counties across Alabama. If you have questions about workers’ compensation benefits or another personal injury issue, let us know. We are happy to answer your questions. Our consultations are always free and confidential.