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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Two Dollar Tree locations in Rhode Island were issued fines after the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited them for safety hazards.

The U.S. Department of Labor said they proposed fines for the stores on Power Road in Pawtucket and Pawtucket Avenue in East Providence for allegedly exposing employees to “serious risks and injuries.”

The Pawtucket store was fined $450,916, while the East Providence store was fined $319,220. They have 15 days to pay or contest the penalties.

According to the Department of Labor, inspectors found large piles of merchandise blocking emergency exits. Some items were stacked up to seven feet high at both locations.

In Pawtucket, an emergency exit was completely covered. Access to fire extinguishers was also blocked, according to the Department of Labor.

At the East Providence storefront, compressed gas cylinders did not have caps for valve protection and were labeled and stored incorrectly.

“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 spokesperson for Dollar Tree Inc. said in a statement. “We take the issues identified in our Rhode Island stores seriously, remediate them as quickly as possible and continue to enhance our safety program and protocols.”

The East Providence store was cited with three repeat violations, while the Pawtucket store was cited with four repeat violations. The Department of Labor said since 2017, more than 300 violations were identified at Dollar Tree Inc. stores, which includes the Family Dollar chain.

“Providing employees with clearly recognized and legally required safeguards, such as unimpeded exit access, properly stored materials and readily available fire extinguishers, must be a priority for any employer and should not be ignored,” OSHA Area Director Robert Sestito explained.

The most recent Rhode Island store violations were identified between October 2022 and February 2023.

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