Dollar General, with nearly 19,000 locations across the country, is one of the fastest-growing retailers in America. However, the discount retailer has recently come under fire for a slew of workplace safety violations.
Since 2017, Dollar General has been hit with more than $21 million in proposed fines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), with the most recent one being a $3.4 million proposed fine in May after inspections found fire safety and electrical hazards at nine locations across four states. The agency has labeled Dollar General a “severe violator.”
“Dollar General continues to expose its employees to unsafe conditions at its stores across the nation,” Doug Parker, assistant secretary for OSHA, said in a statement. “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.”
Since 2014, 49 people have lost their lives in Dollar General stores, and 172 have been injured, according to data from the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive.
On Wednesday, Dollar General workers protested outside the retailer’s headquarters in Goodlettsville, Tennessee ahead of an annual shareholder meeting, CNBC reported.
“I’m one of the hundreds of thousands of Dollar General employees that come into work every day scared for our safety,” David Williams, a company stocker, said in his address to shareholders, per CNBC. “The company has expanded so fast and so recklessly, that on any given day, I might have to deal with a rat infestation, a door that won’t lock or someone pointing their gun at me with no security to protect me.”
Williams noted key issues that put workers at risk such as merchandise that blocks emergency exits and understaffing, which subjects employees to crime.
“It is not uncommon for a worker to be alone in a store at night in areas where robberies commonly occur,” he added.
A CNN investigation found that between 2016 and 2020, at least six Dollar General employees died during armed robberies at its outlets.
Following the protest on Wednesday, shareholders passed a proposal for an independent, third-party audit of Dollar General’s working conditions, safety and company policies. It remains unclear if the initiative is binding.
Entrepreneur has reached out to Dollar General for comment.