Safety and OSHA News

OSHA issues crowd control guidelines in wake of Wal-Mart death

Almost one year after a Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death by “Black Friday” shoppers, OSHA has issued crowd control guidelines for retailers. And Wal-Mart contested the fine associated with the case.

On Nov. 28, 2008, Jdimytai Damour was trampled to death at Wal-Mart’s Valley Stream, NY, store as 2,000 shoppers surged inside for its annual day-after-Thanksgiving sale.

OSHA issued Wal-Mart a $7,000 fine under the General Duty Clause. The federal safety agency says employees were exposed to being crushed by the crowd due to the store’s failure to implement reasonable and effective crowd management.

Wal-Mart contested the fine, and the case will be heard before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

The giant retailer agreed to pay nearly $2 million and improve safety at its 92 New York stores as part of a deal with local prosecutors. Wal-Mart set up a $400,000 victims compensation and remuneration fund and gave $1.5 million to local social service programs and nonprofit groups.

To prevent similar incidents, OSHA recommends retailers:

  • have trained security personnel or police officers on site
  • set up barricades or rope lines for pedestrians and crowd control well in advance of customers’ arrival
  • make sure barricades are set up so the customers’ line doesn’t start right at the store entrance
  • prepare an emergency plan that addresses potential dangers, and
  • have security or customer service personnel explain entrance procedures to the public.

OSHA’s full list of crowd control guidelines is available here (PDF).

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