CASPER, Wyo. — In reaching a settlement agreement with U.S. regulators, the company behind Dollar Tree and Family Dollar will have two years to identify causes of repeated safety violations and take steps to correct them.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that its Occupational Safety and Health Administration reached a corporate-wide settlement agreement with Dollar Tree Inc. to improve workplace safety nationwide. The Chesapeake, Virginia–based company bought Family Dollar in 2015 for nearly $9 billion. Signed last week, the settlement agreement affects some 10,000 locations.
Per the agreement, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar must conduct an assessment of the root causes of the violations OSHA has repeatedly cited, and then make operational changes to correct them. The Associated Press reported that OSHA issued 403 violations at U.S. stores since 2017, and that’s resulted in $13.1 million in fines to date.
Violations have included blocked exits, access to fire extinguishers and electric panels and improper material storage. The stores now must correct those hazards within 48 hours of OSHA notification and later submit proof of the correction. Failure will result in hefty fines, including $100,000 per day, up to $500,000, as well as OSHA inspection and enforcement actions, a Labor Department news release states.
The company also agreed to pay $1.35 million in penalties to settle existing contested and open inspections of similar violations, the Labor Department said.
“By creating incentives for companies to implement systemic solutions nationwide, the Department of Labor has created a pathway to ensuring more workers are safe and protected when they’re at work,” Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda said. “The Solicitor’s office and OSHA support innovative agreements under which companies commit to solve the underlying problems that create hazards. We were willing to use this approach because these companies had already taken substantial steps to address the systemic issues, which gave us confidence that this innovative approach would work.”
As part of the agreement, Dollar Tree Inc. will form safety advisory groups with employee representation, enhance hazard identification and control programs, create an audit program, create a new employee training program and hire additional safety professionals. The company also agreed to maintain a 24-hour hotline for taking safety complaints and create a tracking system to ensure complaints are addressed.
OSHA will meet with company representatives quarterly to discuss programs toward the improvements, the release said.
The company first signed a corporate-wide settlement agreement with OSHA in 2015, which expired in 2018.