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Amazon, Walmart and Dollar General Hit with OSHA Violations

Mega-retailers face fines over unsafe working conditions.   March 1, 2023

By Dan Hounsell, Senior Editor 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has expanded its enforcement efforts against unsafe workplace conditions among the nation’s largest retailers. Since 2017, it has repeatedly cited Dollar General for unsafe conditions in many of its retail locations. Now, Amazon and Walmart have moved further into OSHA’s crosshairs. 

A federal panel recently affirmed that Walmart Inc. violated federal workplace safety standards at its warehouse in Johnstown, New York, when it failed to prevent stored merchandise from falling onto – and seriously injuring – an employee in 2017. 

The decision found that OSHA cited the global discount retailer correctly for failing to meet the agency's safety standard for storage of material that requires that items stored in tiers must be stable and secure against sliding and collapse. 

OSHA investigators in 2017 determined that the Walmart warehouse worker suffered long-term injury when their head and neck were struck by a package that fell from storage racks above. OSHA then issued Walmart Inc. a citation for violating the agency's standard for secure storage and proposed a $10,684 penalty. 

Regarding Amazon, federal workplace safety inspectors once again found that the world's largest e-commerce company exposed workers to hazardous conditions at one of its distribution centers. OSHA cited Amazon for exposing workers to ergonomic hazards at a company facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  

The 2022 inspection came in response to an employee complaint of musculoskeletal disorders related to the site's processing speed and blocked fire exits. OSHA has proposed $15,625 in penalties, an amount set by federal statute. The citations mark the third time in 2023 OSHA has taken such action against Amazon. 

Then there is Dollar General

Since 2017, federal and state OSHA programs identified more than 300 violations in more than 500 inspections at Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores operated by Dollar Tree Inc. Blocked exit routes, unsafe working areas and unsafely stacked boxes and merchandise are all-too-commonly found by workplace safety inspectors. 

Soon after federal workplace safety inspectors arrived at a Dollar Tree store in Mount Pleasant, Texas, they found the national discount retailer again shortchanging employee safety – continuing a pattern of disregard dating back to 2017 – by allowing storeroom merchandise to block exits and walkways and stacking boxes high enough to fall on workers. 

Most recently, OSHA issued citations to Dollar Tree Inc. for three repeat violations and proposed $254,478 in penalties for the company's latest workplace safety infractions. On Sept. 7, 2022, OSHA opened an inspection at the Mount Pleasant store and found blocked exit routes that exposed employees to fire hazards. They also discovered boxes stacked at unstable heights with the potential to seriously injure workers. 

Dan Hounsell is senior editor of the facilities market. He has more than 30 years of experience writing about facilities maintenance, engineering and management. 


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