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Many consumers enjoy going to the Dollar Store, where the one-dollar bill seems to buy you a bit more than in most places.

But the Dollar General Corporation has recently been cited for failing to protect their workers. In September 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed fines totaling $156,772 because the company endangered workers and customers alike by blocking exit routes with stacked merchandise.

Exits Blocked at Dollar General Store

OSHA conducted a regular investigation of one of the Dollar General Corporation’s stores in Bolivar, Ohio, on August 4, 2016. As a result of that inspection, they found the following safety violations:

  • The store had several exits blocked with merchandise.
  • They also failed to mark fire extinguisher locations, and access to the fire extinguishers were blocked.
  • Electrical panels were blocked.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time Dollar has been cited for these types of safety violations. Since 2010, according to OSHA, they’ve received notice of more than 100 violations at their stores nationwide, resulting in more than $1 million in proposed fines.

“In an emergency, no one should have to struggle to get out of a store safely,” said OSHA area director Larry Johnson, “grab a fire extinguisher, or shut down the power quickly, but these dangerous hazards are exactly what our inspectors found at the Dollar General in Bolivar.”

Dollar is headquartered in Tennessee, and owns more than 12,500 stores in 43 states.

Maintaining Clear Exit Routes Is Critical for Safety

OSHA has very clear guidelines when it comes to maintaining safe emergency exit routes. They state that a proper exit route consists of three parts:

  1. Exit access: The portion of the route that leads to an exit.
  2. Exit: The portion of the route that is generally separated from other areas to provide a protected way of travel to the exit discharge.
  3. Exit discharge: The part of the route that leads directly out—to the street, walkway, refuge area, or open space.

They also maintain that every workplace should have at least two exit routes that permit prompt evacuation, though depending on the number of employees and size of the building, more may be required. They do provide for an exception, allowing only one route if everyone can get out safely through that route.

They have other guidelines as well, including the following:

  • Exit routes must be permanent parts of the workplace.
  • Exit discharges must lead directly outside or to a refuge area or open space, and must be large enough to accommodate all building occupants likely to use it.
  • Exit route doors must be unlocked from the inside, and must be free of devices or alarms that would render them unusable in either the device or alarm failed.
  • Ceilings of exit routes must be at least 7 feet 6 inches high.

OSHA also maintains that employers keep exit routes unobstructed by materials, equipment, locked doors, or dead-end corridors, and provide adequate lighting through them. They must also post signs along the exit access so occupants know which direction to go.

All these requirements and more are posted clearly on OSHA’s websites. Dollar General had no excuse for not adhering to the requirements.

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