Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com)-When people go off to work every day, they expect that their employer will ensure their safety while they are on the clock and will always take the necessary precautions to do so. However, this was not the case at four Dollar Tree Stores located in Idaho, according to OSHA.
OSHA has slapped the company with approximately $898,682 in proposed penalties for exposing workers to blocked walkways and exit routes, as well as unsafe storage of merchandise. An OSHA spokesperson told WorkersCompensation.com in an email that the inspections that were carried out at four locations between April 3 and Sept. 11 of this year “were the results of complaints, one common reason for workplace inspections, and these particular stores had not been cited in the past.”
Inspectors at the four stores found that boxes were not stacked properly, and many times the more massive boxes were stacked on top of the light ones, OSHA said. Also, in some instances, many boxes were blocking exit routes and aisles. At one of the stores, an inspector discovered that an employee had been injured when boxes fell on him. While video was being shot by an inspector at one of the stores, a stack of boxes fell and almost injured an employee. At this particular location, the inspector did learn that falling boxes had, in fact, injured another employee.
Among the Repeat and Serious violations listed in the Citation and Notification of Penalty were:
- Employees were exposed to struck-by and trip and fall hazards while working in the storage room where merchandise in boxes was stacked up to 10 feet high and had nothing to prevent them from falling onto or in the path of employees.
- Employees were exposed to burns and smoke inhalation hazards, as well as tripping and fall hazards while working in the storage room where pathways and egress routes were not kept free and unobstructed, preventing immediate access to the exit in case of an emergency. Boxes and U-boat merchandise carts were placed in the exit egress routes, making it difficult to exit during an emergency. Dollar Tree Stores, Inc. was cited twice for this repeat violation of the health and occupational safety; in October of 2018 at a store location in Bloomington, IL, in June 2018 at one of the stores in Aurora, Col., as well as in 2015 in Missoula, MT and Amityville NY.
- The at 410 Cleveland Blvd in Caldwell, Idaho at times prior before the inspection, boxes of merchandise were stacked and blocking electrical control panels preventing employees from accessing the panels and shutting down the facility in the event of an emergency.
- At a store in Nampa, Ida., employees were exposed to fall hazards greater than 8 feet while accessing an extension ladder which was drilled and bolted to the exterior wall of a restroom.
“Dollar Tree Stores has a history of exposing their employees to safety and health hazards,” said Loren Sweatt, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health, in a press release. “Improper storage of merchandise creates unnecessary risks for employees, while blocked exits pose serious risks to the safety of employees and customers in an emergency.”