WalMart Fined for Death

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Walmart Stores Inc. for inadequate crowd management following the November 28, 2008, death of an employee at its Valley Stream, New York, store.

The worker died of asphyxiation after he was knocked to the ground and trampled by a crowd of about 2,000 shoppers who surged into the store for its annual “Blitz Friday” pre-holiday sales event.

OSHA’s inspection found that the store’s employees were exposed to being crushed by the crowd due to the store’s failure to implement reasonable and effective crowd management principles.

This failure includes providing employees with the necessary training and tools to safely manage the large crowd of shoppers.

OSHA issued Walmart one serious citation under its general duty clause for exposing workers to the recognized hazard of being crushed by the crowd.

The citation carries a proposed fine of $7,000, the maximum penalty amount for a serious violation allowed under the law. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.

“Effective planning and crowd management could have prevented this incident and its grave consequences,” says Robert Kulick, OSHA’s regional administrator in New York. “Walmart must now take steps to ensure that a situation such as this one never happens again.”

September 17, 2009

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