Dollar General’s corporate owner is facing up to $321,419 in fines for safety violations at a Penobscot County store, the latest in a series of hefty penalties levied against dollar stores commonly found in small towns and urban areas in Maine and around the country.
Inspectors who responded to a complaint at the Dollar General on Hammett Road in Enfield in November found emergency exits blocked by boxes and rolling containers, carts clogging aisles and access to fire extinguishers, and goods stacked six feet high in front of an electrical panel, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
In all, OSHA found five repeat violations at the Enfield store. The owner, DG Retail, can appeal the penalties.
OSHA said it recently found other violations at Dollar General stores in Ohio, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.
“Dollar General continues to expose its employees to unsafe conditions at its stores across the nation,” Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker said in a news release this week. “As one of the nation’s largest retailers, the company must focus its attention on resolving these issues and making corporate-wide changes to protect the safety and well-being of the people they employ.”
OSHA has issued $21 million in fines against Dollar General stores nationwide since 2017 after conducting 240 inspections. Its competitors have also faced numerous fines.
The Maine Monitor reported in April that OSHA had fined owners of seven dollar-store retail stores Maine tens of thousands of dollars for federal safety violations in the past six years.
The Maine stores targeted since 2017 operate under the names Dollar General, Family Dollar and Dollar Tree. Many of the penalties were for fire- and safety-related hazards including blocked exits, dangerous shelving and outdated fire extinguishers.
According to their websites, there are an estimated 66 Dollar General stores in Maine, 56 Family Dollar Stores and 33 Dollar Trees.
Dollar General operates some 19,000 stores and 28 distribution centers in 47 states. The companies employ more than 173,000 workers, OSHA says.
“As a growing retailer serving thousands of communities across the country, Dollar General is committed to providing a safe work environment for its associates and shopping experience for its customers,” Dollar General said in a statement Wednesday morning. “We regularly review and refine our safety programs, and reinforce them through training, ongoing communication, recognition and accountability.”