Judge upholds OSHA citation in trampling death

March 30, 2011

Washington – An OSHA citation and penalty against Walmart in connection with the trampling death of a worker should stand, the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission’s chief judge ruled.

OSHA cited Walmart under the General Duty Clause for inadequate crowd management following the Nov. 28, 2008, incident in which 2,000 customers looking for post-Thanksgiving sales surged into a store in Valley Stream, NY, crushing a worker. The company was fined $7,000.

Walmart contested the case with OSHRC, but Judge Covette Rooney in a March 25 ruling (.pdf file) affirmed the serious citation and penalty.

“This is a win for both workers and consumers,” OSHA administrator David Michaels said of the ruling. “If not properly managed by retailers, a large crowd poses a significant threat to the lives of workers and customers.”

Michaels has sent letters (.pdf file) to retailers warning them of the dangers to employees during events that draw large numbers, and has provided tips on crowd management safety.

Following the worker death, Walmart implemented new safety procedures to better manage crowds as part of a settlement agreement with Nassau County, NY. Walmart has the option of appealing the judge’s rule to the OSHRC commissioners.