Virginia based Dollar Tree Inc., was definitely on OSHA’s radar after receiving – and failing to rectify – hundreds of citations issued for a wide variety of violations at two of its Ohio Dollar Tree stores. Violations at the two retail properties for obstructed egress, unstable stacks, trip hazards, inaccessible electrical equipment and more has OSHA proposing nearly $1.25 million in penalties. This, however, is just the tip of the iceberg. A multi-year repeat offender Dollar Tree stores have been the focus of over 500 state and federal OSHA inspections uncovering over 300 similar violations since 2017. It is also interesting to note that none of the allegations included reports of injury or death. The moral of this tale? It does not pay to ignore violation citations, orders or regulations – it could actually cost, a lot.
Specifically, California employers should remember that recent legislation (i.e., SB 606) creates an “enterprise-wide” rebuttable presumption for employers with multiple worksites who violate an occupational safety or health standard, order, special order, or regulation. The presumption applies if the employer has a written policy or procedure that violates Cal/OSHA provisions or there is a record evidencing a pattern or practice of the same violation committed by the employer involving more than one of its worksites.
If an employer cannot rebut the presumption, California law authorizes Cal/OSHA to issue an enterprise-wide citation for egregious violations for each willful violation (as determined by Cal/OSHA), and count each employee impacted by the violation as a separate violation for purposes of the issuance of fines and penalties. In other words, the maximum penalty would be assessed per violation, per employee. The statute also authorizes Cal/OSHA to investigate the employer’s policies/practices or those of any related employer entity, to issue and enforce a subpoena for any failure to provide requested information. The ability to seek an injunction or temporary restraining order is also authorized.
All employers should be mindful of state and federal OSHA obligations including safety and agricultural-related employer required postings. Posting information can be found using the resources listed below:
- Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
- California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA)
- Arizona’s Department of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH)
Agricultural Employer Posting Requirements: