All workplaces must be reasonably safe. That includes preventing ordinary hazards that may not garner our full attention. When OSHA finds that an employer hasn’t taken reasonable steps to keep employees safe, it can fine that employer. Unfortunately, some may see those fines as the cost of doing business.
One such employer appears to be Dollar Tree, Inc., which operates 16,000 discount variety stores in North America. It has over 193,000 employees and saw a gross profit in 2021 of $7.7 billion. So it’s not a lack of resources that explains the company’s longstanding workplace safety problems.
Recently, OSHA inspected a Dollar Tree store in Matteson. It found a list of ordinary problems that could easily injure someone, especially if there were a fire:
- Merchandise, boxes and wheel carts blocking walkways and work areas in the storeroom, which create a fire hazard as well as a slip, trip and fall hazard
- Stacked merchandise obstructing the electrical panels, creating electrical and fire hazards
- Unsecured, unstable boxes of freight stacked higher than six feet, which puts workers at risk of being struck by falling boxes
For these violations, OSHA proposed to fine Dollar Tree $364,661. The company has the right to challenge the proposed penalties.
It’s apparently business as usual for Dollar Tree. According to OSHA, the federal and state agencies have inspected more than 500 Dollar Tree stores since 2017. They found more than 300 health and safety violations. Most commonly, they found blocked or obstructed exit routes, fire extinguishers and electrical panels; unsafely stacked merchandise; and unsafe walking-working areas.
This has to stop
“Dollar Tree continues to ignore hazards that put their workers and others at risk of injuries or worse,” said an OSHA spokesperson. “All too often, our inspectors find similar hazards at Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores that discount employee safety for the sake of profits. The bottom line is, it has to stop before someone is seriously hurt or unable to safely exit in an emergency.”
You don’t have to show your employer was at fault to claim workers’ comp
We discuss workplace safety on this blog because we care about our clients who have been injured. We want to help them get all the benefits available to them through Illinois’ workers’ compensation system. The fact is, however, that you do not have to report your boss to OSHA or prove they did anything wrong in order to make a workers’ comp claim.
In most cases, you are entitled to workers’ comp simply because you were injured or sickened on the job. Workers’ comp is not automatic, however. You have to report your illness or injury to your employer and apply for the benefit.