Missoula's Dollar Tree store is slapped with a hefty fine for repeatedly putting workers at risk with safety violations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, has a long history with Dollar Tree stores across the country for making violations.
The store faces a $217,000 fine, after OSHA officials said employers intentionally ignored safety and health hazards. They said this problem isn't anything new for Dollar Tree, Inc. stores.
"The reason we do our job and issue citations is to prevent employee injuries, exposures and illnesses," said Jeff Funke, the Montana Area Director for OSHA.
OSHA started an inspection in November after getting a complaint about the store's conditions.
"We found blocked exits, electrical panels and the products were hazardous, because they could fall over and land on employees," Funke said.
For these dangers, the store got three willful violations. That's the most extreme OSHA penalty. Officials said this is because employers knew about the dangers.
"Willful violations are only cited when we believe an employer has shown intentional disregard or plain indifference to safety and health hazards," Funke said.
The store was also cited with one repeat violation for failure to handle and store compressed helium gas cylinders securely.
"You have to have it secured to the wall, because if it tipped over it could strike someone," Funke said.
It was considered a repeat violation, because a Dollar Tree store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania got the same citation within the last five years. This isn't the only problem OSHA recently had with Dollar Tree, Inc.
"They have been cited many, many times. Blocked exits are a corporate problem," Funke said.
Dollar Tree Incorporated has been cited for this violation at several stores throughout the country. In addition, a Delaware store was cited in April for similar safety violations, with penalties totaling $143,000.
"My hope is on national level, the Dollar Tree will make changes, they will enforce safety policies," Funke said.
The company has 15 business days to comply, ask for an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the citations before a review commission.
ABC FOX Montana tried speaking with Dollar Tree managers and employees in Missoula, but was referred to the corporate office. The office hasn't given us a response.