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Judge uphold’s Wal-Mart citation regarding worker death

05.10.11

APRIL 2011 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Judge uphold’s Wal-Mart citation regarding worker death

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 27th- The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) applauded a ruling by Chief Administrative Law Judge Covette Rooney of the Independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission upholding the citation and full penalty issued to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for inadeguate crowd management following a November 2008 trampling death of a worker at one of the company’s retail locations in New York.

In May 2009, OSHA cited Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for inadequate crowd management, concluding an investigation launched after a worker was trampled to death on November 28th, 2008, at its Wal-Mart store in Valley Stream, New York. The worker was knocked to the ground and crushed by a crowd of about 2,000 shoppers surging into the store for its annual “Blitz Friday” holiday sales event. OSHA’s inspection found that the store’s workers were at risk of being crushed by the crowd due to the store’s failure to implement reasonable and effective crowd management practices. Those practices would have provided the store’s workers with the necessary training and tools to safety manage a large crowd of shoppers.

“This is a win for both workers and consumers. It’s only fitting that today the 100th anniversary of the deadly Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City where 146 workers lost their lives that a judge affirmed OSHA’s right to protect the safety and health of workers from clearly recognized hazards. 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,” stated Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health.

Under its General Duty Clause, OSHA issued Wal-Mart Stores Inc. one serious citation for exposing workers to the recognized hazards of asphyxiation or being crushed by a crowd. The citation carried a proposed fine of $7,000, the maximum penalty amount for a serious violation allowed under the law. A violation is serious when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.

The OSHAct was passed in 1970.

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