Don’t Make a $163,000 Mistake: Costly Common Safety Concerns

Lawonn_PaulGuest Columnist: Paul J. Lawonn, Partner, North Point Knowledge & Training

On December 31, 2015 the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) issued citations to the Dollar General Corporation for serious, willful, and repeat violations at one of their Texas stores based on employee complaints. The citations point to very common safety concerns found in most workplaces; concerns that are often overlooked and not corrected. The total proposed penalty for all violations was $162,800!

What were the problem areas? The compliance officer identified blocked electrical panels, unmarked exit doors, cluttered aisles, unmounted fire extinguishers, and unsanitary break areas. Several of these violations had been cited by OSHA before, and for that reason, some violations were classified as repeat and/or willful violations.

The following is a list of their recorded citations:

Citation 1 Item 1: Serious violation
29 CFR 1910.37(b)(2): Each exit was not clearly visible and marked by a sign reading “Exit.” Several exits did not have the required signage above the exit.
Penalty: $3,300

Citation 2 Item 1: Willful violation
29 CFR 1910.37(a)(3): Exit route(s) were not kept free and unobstructed.
Boxes of product loaded on pallets and placed on the floor were not stored in a manner to allow unobstructed access into or out of the store exits, exposing employees to the hazards of entrapment and fire hazards.
Penalty: $60,500

Citation 2 Item 2: Willful violation
29 CFR 1910.303(g)(1)(ii): The required working space about electrical equipment rated 600 volts, nominal, or less to ground, was used for storage. In the stock room, working space for electrical panels was used for storage; and access to the circuit breaker panels were blocked by stock and material boxes exposing employees to electrical fire and burn hazards.
Penalty: $44,000

Citation 3 Item 1: Repeat violation
29 CFR 1910.22(a)(1): All places of employment, passageways, storerooms or services rooms were not kept clean and orderly or in a sanitary condition. In aisles and break room areas, employees were exposed to hygiene, trip, slip, and fall hazards when taking breaks and/or handling merchandise without the work area being maintained in an orderly and sanitary condition.
Penalty: $22,000