Dollar General settles with the Labor Department over workplace safety violations

A sign hangs above a Dollar General store on August 31, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. 

Scott Olson | Getty Images

The U.S. Department of Labor announced a settlement Thursday with Dollar General, requiring the retailer and its subsidiaries to pay $12 million in penalties and implement significant workplace safety improvements in its more than 19,000 stores nationwide. 

The new set of fines adds to the more than $21 million in fines from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration that the discounter has racked up since 2017 due to blocked fire exits, dangerous levels of clutter and other safety claims. Gun violence has also been an issue for Dollar General stores: 49 people have been killed and 172 people have been injured at Dollar General stores by gun violence, according to 2023 data from nonprofit Gun Violence Archive.

A repeat offender with the Department of Labor, Dollar General became the first company to be added to OSHA’s “severe violators” of workplace safety rules list in 2023, after the agency expanded the reach of its safety enforcement program.

“This agreement commits Dollar General to making worker safety a priority by implementing significant and systematic changes in its operations to improve accountability and compliance, and it gives Dollar General employees essential input on ensuring their own health and safety,” Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Douglas Parker said in a press release.

Under the new settlement, the Tennessee-based retailer is required to hire additional safety managers, and significantly reduce its inventory and increase stocking efficiency to prevent blocked exits and clutter. It’s also required to provide safety and health training to all employees and to develop a safety and health committee with employee participation.

Dollar General has hired third-party consultants and auditors to identify hazards and perform unannounced annual compliance audits, created a new Safety Operations Center and maintained an anonymous hotline for employees and the public to report safety concerns.

The third party-auditors were first commissioned as a response to a shareholder vote in May 2023 calling for one, a decision that the company opposed at the time.

The settlement with the Department of Labor also requires Dollar General to monitor outcomes of those efforts and provide quarterly reports to OSHA.

Under the agreement, Dollar General will be required to correct safety hazards such as blocked access to fire extinguishers and electrical panels and improper material storage at its stores within 48 hours and submit proof of correction. The discounter will be subject to additional fines of $100,000 a day up to $500,000 if it fails to do so.

CNBC has reached out to Dollar General for additional comment.

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