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OSHA fines chain store over padlocked, blocked emergency exit doors

Dollar General

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited two Dollar General stores in Ohio and Wisconsin for endangering the safety of their employees after inspectors found that emergency exits were not accessible.   

In Baldwin, Wisconsin, OSHA inspectors responded to a referral from local fire officials in December 2021 and found emergency exit doors closed and padlocked on the inside with a bike lock and a board. Boxes of merchandise blocked the exit. In an emergency, these conditions would prevent workers and others from exiting the store through these emergency exits. 

Store managers told OSHA inspectors the exit doors needed repairs to close properly and were frequently padlocked and blocked with a board while employees were present. OSHA determined that Dollar General allowed the door to remain in disrepair since September 2021. Fire officials inspected the store 11 times in 2021, and ordered the facility closed six times due to hazardous conditions.  

OSHA issued four willful citations for blocking emergency routes, exits and fire extinguishers and failing to leave adequate space around electrical panels. The agency proposed penalties of $435,081. 

A similar inspection was conducted at a Dollar General store in Seville, Ohio, on Jan. 11, 2022, where OSHA inspectors discovered barrel locks on the inside of a double-door emergency exit, which requires special knowledge and additional time to open and might prevent a safe and quick exit in an emergency. The agency cited the store for one willful violation and proposed $145,027 in penalties.