Fines against Wal-Mart Stores Inc.have been upheld after the Occupation Safety & Health Administration cited the company for inadequate crowd control, that led to a trampling death of an employee in 2008.
Our personal injury lawyers in Hickory, Greensboro and Gastonia have touched on this topic before on our North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Blog. Business owners have the responsibility to keep guests and employees safe in order to prevent a premise liability accident in North Carolina.
“Today’s ruling supports OSHA’s position that, even in the absence of a specific rule or standard, employers are still legally responsible for providing a place of employment free of recognized hazards that are likely to cause serious injury or death. If not properly managed by retailers, a large crowd poses a significant threat to the lives of workers and customers,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, Dr. David Michaels.
OSHA concluded its investigation in May 2009 and cited Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for failing to provide adequate crowd management, when an employee was pushed to the ground and crushed to death on Nov. 28, 2008 at a Valley Stream, N.Y. Wal-Mart. Investigators found that the store lacked effective and reasonable crowd management practices, which would have trained the staff on how to handle a large crowd. This tragedy occurred when a crowd of over 2,000 shoppers pushed through the doors for the “Blitz Friday” holiday shopping event.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. was issued one serious citation for exposing employees to the recognized hazards of being crushed by a crowd or asphyxiation. The proposed fine was $7,000, the most allowed by law for a serious violation. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. disputed the violation and brought it to the OSHRC, which makes a final decision on contested fines and violations.
“During the course of OSHA’s investigation, the company implemented crowd control measures storewide, and the National Retail Federation also promoted those practices to its members,” said Michaels. “We praise that action, and urge all retailers to implement crowd management practices ahead of future sales events likely to draw large crowds.”
OSHA provides further information about crowd management here.
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