Dollar Tree may offer a good deal, but the company has faced a number of regulatory actions recently—and the penalties haven’t been cheap.
In May, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries fined the company $503,200 for 24 citations at a store in Vancouver, WA. The citations included blocked emergency exits, unsafe use of ladders, and improper stacking of merchandise. It was one of the largest fines the agency has ever issued, due to both the number of safety hazards present and the company’s sustained pattern of “repeat willful” violations.
According to a press release from the L&I, “[t]he violations continued even after the company was informed by an L&I inspector of the safety hazards during earlier visits, and was provided specific instruction on how to improve employee safety at the store and avoid further violations.”
This wasn’t Dollar Tree’s first tussle with safety regulators. The press release mentions that “[p]rior to this most recent citation, Dollar Tree ha[d] been fined nearly $593,000 since 2013.” The L&I now considers the company a “severe violator,” meaning Dollar Tree is subject to inspections at any time.
As if that weren’t enough of a headache, news broke last month that the company is facing an additional $104,192 in penalties from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. OSHA determined that a Dollar Tree store in West Palm Beach, Florida had “expos[ed] employees to struck-by, trip, and fall hazards due to unstable merchandise stacked in excess of 7-feet high in the path of an emergency exit.”
Ouch. That’s total of $607,392 in penalties over the last two months alone. At $1 apiece, you’d have to sell a whole lot of nail polish, dog toys, and baby food to recoup the loss. Want to avoid becoming the next “severe violator?” Of course you do. Here are a few takeaways from these penalties:
- Don’t commit the same violation twice. If OSHA or your state regulator identifies an issue, be sure to implement solutions as quickly and safely as possible. You do not want to become a repeat offender.
- Always follow smart storage and handling protocols. Be on the lookout for unsafe practices, including large stacks of heavy boxes. (You can take a look at photos of the storage practices in question here.)
- Pay special attention to emergency exits. Keep your exit routes clear and get rid of any clutter, debris, or potential obstacles. (Check out more federal guidance on emergency exits here.)
An automated environmental health and safety platform can help you keep your workers safe—and your company off of regulators’ radars. Organizations that use KPA’s solution not only avoid penalties and legal fees, but tend to lower their workers’ compensation costs as well. Now that’s a good deal.