Oregon OSHA has fined Dollar Tree Stores Inc. $32,000 for repeatedly exposing employees to potential serious injury from unsecured materials falling on them, tripping and falling in cramped aisles, and inaccessible fire extinguishers and emergency exits.
The penalty was issued as part of a citation resulting from an inspection of the Dollar Tree at 29756 SW Town Center Loop West in Wilsonville. Under Oregon OSHA rules, penalties multiply when employers commit repeat offenses. The $32,000 fine following the inspection of the Wilsonville site reflects the fact that most of the violations identified there were repeats of violations cited previously at other Dollar Tree locations in Oregon.
The citation against the Wilsonville location stems from an inspection the division initiated in response to a complaint.
The inspection – launched in late 2021 and wrapped up in February – included interviews, on-site walk-throughs and observations, and an examination of records, including internal company audits revealing workplace hazards left unaddressed. The inspection identified five violations, four of which involved repeat offenses, exposing employees to serious physical harm.
“The workplace safety and health standards enforced by Oregon OSHA are there for a reason, so that employers have clear and time-tested steps to follow to keep workers out of harm’s way,” said Lou Savage, interim administrator for the division. “Failing to follow them is not an option. Repeatedly failing to follow them serves only one purpose: to deepen the risk of severe injury and suffering.”
Altogether, Oregon OSHA cited Dollar Tree Stores Inc. for the following violations at the Wilsonville location, reflecting the application of increased penalties for repeat violations of the same rule at other stores in the state:
- Failure to stabilize and secure boxes of merchandise to prevent them from falling onto or in the path of employees, which potentially exposed employees to struck-by, trip, and fall hazards. It was the sixth repeat violation of this rule since 2018. Penalty: $7,500
- Failure to ensure an adequate width for aisles and walkways, which potentially exposed employees to trip and fall hazards. It was the fourth repeat violation of this rule since 2019. Penalty: $10,500
- Failure to ensure that stored materials, including merchandise in the stockroom and at the back of the store, did not block access to portable fire extinguishers. It was the second repeat violation of this rule since 2018. Penalty: $3,500
- Failure to ensure that merchandise, carts, and conveyor rollers in the stockroom did not block emergency exit routes, which potentially exposed employees to trip and fall hazards, and smoke inhalation or burns. It was the second repeat violation of this rule since 2020. Penalty: $10,500
- Failure to keep written records of safety committee meetings for three years, including names of attendees, meeting dates, safety and health issues discussed, recommendations for corrections, and dates by which managers agree to follow up on corrections.
Safety committees are important because they offer a meaningful opportunity for workers – the people who do the tasks and operate the equipment that could expose them to hazards – to participate in keeping a workplace safe and healthy. Most employers in Oregon are required to have a safety committee or hold safety meetings.
Employers have 30 calendar days after receiving a citation to file an appeal.
Workers have a right to a safe and healthy workplace. That includes the right to raise concerns free from retaliation and to file a complaint with Oregon OSHA, which advances safety for all Oregon workers through enforcement, consultation, technical, and public education and training services. The Ombuds Office for Oregon Workers, an independent advocate, offers workers help in understanding their rights within workplace safety and health rules, and their rights within the workers’ compensation system.
Moreover, the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) Multicultural Communications Program provides outreach to communities with limited English proficiency. That outreach includes information about on-the-job safety and health. The program includes a toll-free phone number for Spanish-speaking Oregonians: 800-843-8086.
Source: Oregon OSHA