The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently announced that a Family Dollar store in Orlando, Florida, will pay over $330K in penalties for various workplace safety violations. The violations in question ultimately led to a fatal shoplifting incident. Indeed, OSHA maintained that the violations were willful and repeated. OSHA continues to investigate and find safety violations in workplaces nationwide, including several discount retailers. Previously, OSHA found workplace safety violations at two Dollar General stores involving blocked emergency exits.

Overview of the Investigation

After struggling with a shoplifter to prevent their escape, a 41-year-old employee experienced shortness of breath and nausea. The employee later died at the hospital. The investigation into the fatal shoplifting incident at the Orlando store revealed underlying workplace safety violations. Unfortunately, these violations allegedly led to the loss of the employee’s life.

In sum, OSHA investigators found:

  • locked emergency exit doors,
  • obstructed pathways and aisleways, and
  • other hazardous conditions associated with workplace violence.

Employer’s Duty to Prevent Workplace Safety Violations

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act), which established OSHA, sets and enforces workplace safety and health standards. In doing so, it assures safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women. Notably, the OSH Act’s “General Duty Clause” requires that all employers:

  1. shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees; and
  2. shall comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under [the] Act.

In compliance with the OSH Act’s General Duty Clause, and to avoid OSHA safety violations and costly litigation, employers should recognize and fix common workplace hazards. Indeed, these common workplace hazards include obstructed aisleways, locked emergency exit doors, and exposure to workplace violence.

OSHA Penalties for Workplace Safety Violations

In the end, OSHA proposed $330,446 in penalties for multiple workplace safety violations. Additionally, OSHA urged the company to train employees on procedures in case of robbery or shoplifting. Finally, OSHA recommended the employer create a procedure for requesting immediate assistance from local emergency services.

Workplace Violence Prevention Training Module

Over 2 million Americans are victims of workplace violence each year. Undoubtedly, workplace violence can occur anywhere at any time. Therefore, every employer must address the threat of workplace violence by implementing appropriate safeguards and safety training. Failure to protect employees from violence in the workplace can result in fines and penalties. With this in mind, Personnel Concepts created the Workplace Violence Prevention Training Module. This interactive training program provides key information to help prevent injuries and fatalities resulting from workplace violence.