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News / Business

‘Severe violator’: Dollar Tree fined again for breaking worker safety rules

By Grace Deng, Washington State Standard
Published: August 3, 2023, 3:21pm

Dollar Tree is a recurring violator of Washington’s worker safety regulations and is getting hit with financial penalties as a result, the state Department of Labor and Industries said this week.

The major discount retail chain faces $132,000 in fines after the state’s latest inspection of a store in Tacoma revealed “three repeat willful violations — issued when a business repeatedly puts their employees at risk when they knew or should have known relevant safety requirements.” Dollar Tree has appealed the citation.

Violations included blocked emergency exits, debris scattered on the floor and boxes stacked over six feet high, which could topple over and injure employees, the state said.

The three violations are the same hazards the state cited Dollar Tree for three months ago. Labor and Industries has inspected Dollar Tree stores in the state more than 30 times in the past four years, resulting in more than a million dollars in fines.

Local Angle

In 2019, the state Department of Labor & Industries levied a $503,200 fine against a Dollar Tree store in Vancouver, alleging unsafe conditions. It's one of the largest fines the agency has ever issued. L&I said the store at 6700 N.E. 162nd Ave. blocked emergency exit routes, unsafe ladder use and improper stacking of merchandise among the numerous safety hazards.

The company is subject to Washington’s “Severe Violator Enforcement Program,” which means state inspectors can show up at any time. Dollar Tree stores nationwide have a history of ignoring workplace safety. 

“Even after multiple large fines, it appears Dollar Tree has not gotten the message that they need to take sustained, comprehensive steps to keep their workers safe,” said Craig Blackwood, assistant director for L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

Fines are placed in a workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund for injured workers and families of those who have died on the job.

A spokesperson for Dollar Tree did not immediately return a request for comment.

Washington State Standard is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Washington State Standard maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Bill Lucia for questions: info@washingtonstatestandard.com. Follow Washington State Standard on Facebook and Twitter.