Dollar Tree Now in L&I's Severe Violator Enforcement Program

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries recently issued one of its largest fines ever, $503,200, to the company after finding blocked emergency exit routes, unsafe ladder use, improper stacking of merchandise, and other safety hazards at a Vancouver, Wash., store.

Dollar Tree's battles with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) continue. L&I announced May 16 that it has issued one of its largest fines ever, $503,200, to the company after finding blocked emergency exit routes, unsafe ladder use, improper stacking of merchandise, and other safety hazards at a Vancouver, Wash., store located at 6700 NE 162 Ave. The agency's inspection resulted in several "repeat willful" and other violations for unsafe merchandise storage and handling and obstructed exit routes.

The company has now been placed in L&I's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which means its stores are now subject to inspections at any time. Dollar Tree has appealed this citation, and it could take several months for the appeals process to be completed.

L&I reported that the fine is related in part to L&I's finding the same safety hazards at the store during multiple visits, saying the violations "continued even after the company was informed by an L&I inspector of the safety hazards during earlier visits and was provided specific instruction on how to improve employee safety at the store and avoid further violations."

"Even after multiple large fines, it appears this company has not gotten the message to ensure their safety and health system is working in every Washington store location," said L&I Assistant Director Anne Soiza. "This fine is one of the largest we've issued, and we will apply pressure to Dollar Tree until its leadership takes sustained, comprehensive steps to prevent serious hazards."

According to the agency, this is the third large L&I citation and fine involving Dollar Tree in just over a year. Since the beginning of 2017, L&I has completed 15 inspections at Dollar Tree stores after receiving complaints and referrals about allegedly unsafe working conditions. Prior to this most recent citation, Dollar Tree has been fined nearly $593,000 since 2013, including a $166,000 fine issued after inspection of a store in Bonney Lake and a $140,000 fine related to a Kelso Dollar Tree.

The agency reported that "Dollar Tree locations around the country have been cited for improper stacking of merchandise boxes, mostly in their storerooms, and for blocking exits or impeding pathways."

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    July/August 2019

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