Oregon OSHA Fines Forest Grove Dollar Tree $37,500

M.O. Stevens (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Wikimedia Commons
A Hillsboro Dollar Tree store in 2014.

The state has cited Dollar Tree stores 11 times since November 2021.

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Oregon OSHA has fined a Dollar Tree store in Forest Grove $37,500 for “willfully exposing employees to potential serious injury” due to the way merchandise in the store was stacked, the agency announced this week.

Per an Oregon OSHA press release, boxes at the store were stacked more than seven feet high and unsecured. The agency cited the stack as a serious violation during an initial inspection visit. Management at the store submitted documentation intending to show the hazard was abated, but investigators didn’t consider the documentation sufficient, and also received an anonymous complaint saying the unsecured merchandize hazard had not been sufficiently addressed.

That prompted a follow-up inspection, which included employee interviews and a review of internal documents that showed the hazard had “only briefly” been abated. Investigators also found that an employee had tried to correct the hazard, but the stack of boxes collapsed, trapping an employee who had to be helped by a coworker to get free.

“Ensuring employees are protected from harm by implementing clearly recognized and legally obligated safety measures must remain a priority for any employer,” Oregon OSHA Administrator Renée Stapleton said in the release. “Willfully and knowingly disregarding such safety measures is absolutely inexcusable.” 

According to Oregon OSHA spokesperson Aaron Corvin, since November 2021, the agency has cited Dollar Tree 11 times at different store locations across the state for violating requirements. Three of those citations went to the Forest Grove location and three to the Wilsonville store. The rest involve a citation each to locations in Redmond, Oregon City, Aloha, Eugene and Salem.  

“To be sure, some of the citations involved more than one violation and also different types of violations,” Corvin wrote in an email to Oregon Business. “We have cited the employer for violations of rules governing secure storage, prevention of slipping and tripping hazards, access to exit routes, and the requirement that employers maintain a safety committee.”

In March, the New York Times reported that since 2017, Dollar Tree has been cited for 90 violations and fined $14 million by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Division; Family Dollar, which Dollar Tree acquired in 2014, has been cited 54 times and fined $5 million.

The store has 30 calendar days to file an appeal.

“We are focused on maintaining a safe environment for our associates and customers and ensuring our stores comply with all health and safety regulations,” a company spokesperson for Dollar Tree said in a written statement shared with OB. “We take the issues identified in our Forest Grove store seriously, remediate them as quickly as possible and continue to enhance our safety program and protocols.”

Dollar Tree Inc. is a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Chesapeake, Va. Per its website, as of January of this year the company operated more than 16,000 stores in 48 states and five Canadian provinces; it employs more than 200,000 people. The company has stores, which are known for offering merchandise at extreme discounts, in 65 Oregon cities. It is publicly traded and as of Wednesday, shares were worth $147.67.

A study published in the American Journal of Public Health this January, which surveyed 50,000 households on their food purchasing practices, found that dollar stores are the fastest growing food retailers by expenditure share, growing by 89.7% between 2008 and 2020 and by 102.9% in rural areas, though still accounting for just 2.1% of food purchases overall in 2020.

Dollar stores are also one of the fastest growing sectors of retail overall: in 2022, Dollar Tree opened 464 new stores, relocated 120 stores and closed 205 stores. The company reported a 9% net sales increase of $7.72 billion.

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