Dollar Tree Stores Inc., which is based in Chesapeake, Virginia, was recently cited by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for willful and repeated violations at their Watauga, Texas store. The proposed penalty for these violations, for exposing workers to serious hazards, total more than $262,000.
The Texas Dollar Tree in Watauga was cited for two willful violations, including one for failing to ensure that exit doors were not blocked, and that access to them was kept clear and unobstructed. The other violation was for failing to make sure products were stored in a stable and secure manner. A willful violation is one in which OSHA inspectors determine was committed “with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.”
The store was also cited for several repeat violations, including one for their failure to keep passageways clean and clear, and another for their failure to secure compressed gas cylinders. In addition, inspectors found portable fire extinguishers and electrical panels to be blocked. A repeat violation occurs when the same employer was previously cited for the same or similar violation within the last five years.
These violations seem to be part of a pattern for the discount store chain nationwide. Since 2009, employees at Dollar Tree stores in 26 states have made complaints to OSHA, and the agency has cited various stores in the chain for 234 OSHA violations in that time. In the last five months alone, OSHA has fined the company more than $800,000 for numerous willful and repeat violations nearly identical to those it found in the Texas store. The report on this incident noted that boxes weighing as much as 45 pounds were piled in the storage room “haphazardly,” thus exposing workers to the possibility of being injured or even crushed.
Dollar Tree Stores employs nearly 70,000 part-time workers and about 17,600 full-time workers. The investigation of the store in Watauga was initiated after OSHA received a complaint about dangerous conditions.
All employers in Texas and elsewhere in the United States have an obligation to provide all employees with a safe and healthy work environment. If an employer fails to provide a safe working environment, they could be considered negligent. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed while on the job, please contact the Texas Worksite Injury Lawyers at Hill Law Firm as soon as possible, so that we can conduct a thorough investigation and help you protect your rights.