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Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores must fix certain safety problems in 2 days or be fined by OSHA.These include locked and blocked exits, obstructed fire extinguishers, and unsafe stacks of boxes.The discount retailers have also opened a 24-hour hotline for staff to report safety complaints.
Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores will be given 48 hours to fix issues like blocked fire exits and stacked-up boxes — or they’ll be fined $100,000 a day by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
This comes under a new companywide settlement, dated August 17, between OSHA and the two store chains. It aims to improve workplace safety following years of complaints related to dangerous conditions in their stores and backrooms. Dollar Tree’s parent company, Dollar Tree, Inc, bought Family Dollar in 2015.
Under the new agreement, within 48 hours of OSHA notifying the companies of issues such as exits being locked or blocked by equipment, access to fire extinguishers and electrical panels being obstructed, and materials storage being stacked in an unsafe way — including being stacked in a pile higher than eight feet — they must fix the hazards and submit proof.
If they don’t, the companies will be fined $200,000 for failing to fix the problem within 48 hours, plus an extra $100,000 each day after that, up to a total of $500,000. They’ll also face OSHA inspection and enforcement actions.
Under the OSHA agreement, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar’s district managers have to check for compliance with these standards every time they conduct a store assessment visit, and the stores have to perform around 2,000 backroom camera audits per month. Staff will also need to ensure stores have yellow paint or tape on the floor marking doors, exit routes, and electrical panels.
OSHA said that since 2017, its federal and state programs have identified more than 300 violations at Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores, and has previously warned that the hazards could expose employees “to serious physical harm.” A Food and Drug Administration inspection found dead and alive rodents and dead birds inside a Family Dollar facility in Arkansas. Hundreds of stores temporarily shut ast year over concerns that some of their products could have been contaminated, and the distribution facility permanently closed down.
Dollar Tree, Inc has opened a 24-hour hotline for staff to report safety complaints, and the agreement stipulates that it will have to track calls to ensure the issues are addressed. Under the agreement, it will form a safety advisory group including at least 15 employees who can give recommendations to leadership. The two store chains plan to create new employee training programs and hire more safety staff.
To prevent the safety issues from occurring, the agreement requires Dollar Tree and Family Dollar to conduct a thorough assessment of the root causes of the safety violations, including investigating whether staffing and trucking delivery times could be contributing factors. The companies have to make operational changes based on the assessment, which must be implemented within two years. They’ll also have to identify the stores most likely to have problems complying with OSHA safety measures and implement enhanced plans for these stores.
The companies will also change their staff policies so that they can carry out disciplinary procedures if employees fail to comply with safety rules, including potential immediate termination, the agreement states.
Dollar Tree and Family Dollar also agreed to pay $1.35 million in penalties to settle a number of existing similar alleged violations.
“Our company is in the midst of a business transformation, and at the heart of it all is our continued focus on safety for our more than 200,000 associates,” Dollar Tree, Inc COO Mike Creedon said in a statement Wednesday. “We are implementing substantial safety policies, procedures, and training, all intended to safeguard the wellbeing of our associates.”
The companies first signed a corporate-wide settlement agreement with OSHA in 2015.