As a small or midsize business owner, ensuring workplace safety is not only essential for the well-being of your employees but also crucial to avoid potential penalties for violating employment laws.
A recent case involving Dollar General, a national retailer, serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of neglecting safety regulations. Inspections conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor in Alabama and Florida uncovered multiple safety violations, resulting in significant penalties.
This article aims to shed light on the case and emphasize the importance of prioritizing workplace safety to protect your business and employees.
The HR experts at Asure protect small and midsize business owners from non-compliance violations. Learn more here.
During inspections conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in October and November 2022, three Dollar General locations in Alabama were found to be exposing employees to fire hazards and unsafe conditions.
Violations included spare shelving, rolling containers, and merchandise blocking exit routes, as well as blocked walkways, posing trip and struck-by hazards for workers. In December 2022, a Dollar General store in Astor, Florida, was found to be blocking access to fire extinguishers and storing materials improperly around an electrical panel.
Consequences and Repeat Violations
As a result of these inspections, Dollar General Corp. was issued citations for a total of eight repeat violations, leading to proposed penalties of $1,098,292. It is important to note that since 2017, the company has faced more than $21 million in fines from over 240 inspections nationwide.
Furthermore, between February 2022 and April 2023, Dollar General has been assessed nearly $9 million in proposed penalties for safety violations in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia alone, following 28 investigations. These repeated violations indicate a failure to address safety concerns and pose a significant risk to employees.
OSHA’s Call for Change
OSHA Area Director Joel Batiz in Birmingham, Alabama, expressed concern about the recurring hazards found in Dollar General stores. He emphasized the need for immediate action to address these violations before a tragedy occurs. The company’s history of safety violations and the substantial penalties imposed highlight the gravity of the situation.
Dollar General: Company Overview
Dollar General Corp., based in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, operates approximately 19,000 stores and 28 distribution centers in 47 states, employing over 173,000 workers. With net sales exceeding $9 billion in fiscal year 2022, it is crucial for such a large retailer to prioritize workplace safety to protect its employees and maintain regulatory compliance.
Lessons for Small and Midsize Business Owners
The Dollar General case offers valuable lessons for small and midsize business owners regarding workplace safety and compliance with employment laws:
Prioritize Workplace Safety
Ensure your business complies with safety regulations and provides a safe environment for employees. Conduct regular inspections to identify and address any potential hazards promptly.
Address Repeat Violations
Take immediate action to rectify any recurring safety violations. Ignoring these issues can lead to severe penalties and jeopardize the well-being of your employees.
Provide comprehensive safety training to all employees. Ensure they understand safety protocols, emergency procedures, and the importance of maintaining a hazard-free workplace.
Ongoing Compliance Efforts
Stay updated with the latest safety regulations applicable to your industry. Regularly review and update safety policies, procedures, and training materials to align with evolving standards.
The case of Dollar General serves as a cautionary tale for small and midsize business owners. Prioritizing workplace safety and adhering to employment laws are essential for the well-being of your employees and the longevity of your business. By investing in safety measures, conducting regular inspections, and addressing any violations promptly, you can protect your business.
The HR experts at Asure can help your business comply with employment laws on the Federal, State, and local levels. Connect with an HR expert here.