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OSHRC Upholds Citation in Wal-Mart Trampling Death

    Client Alerts
  • April 15, 2011

In 2008, a Wal-Mart employee in New York was trampled to death by customers as he opened the store doors at the beginning of a "Black Friday" sales event. OSHA cited Wal-Mart under the General Duty Clause for failing to take precautions to protect employees from onrushing customers, and assessed a maximum penalty of $7000.

Last week, an Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission administrative law judge affirmed the citation, concluding that Wal-Mart's precautions to protect its employees from injury during the sale were minimal and ineffective. Customers had lined up for the sale 12 hours in advance, and crowd control measures were insufficient and largely ignored. The ALJ noted a number of feasible measures that could have been used by Wal-Mart to control the crowd and minimize the risk of injury to employees.

As a result of this incident, OSHA published a guidance document for retailers detailing "best practices" for security and crowd control during large sales events. OSHA has repeatedly stated its intent to cite retailers for failing to protect employees from injury by customers in future situations.