Commission upholds penalty in Wal-Mart trampling death
OSHA is praising a decision to uphold its citation and penalty issued to Wal-Mart. The company was cited after the trampling death of a worker during a sale in November 2008.
The worker was killed when an estimated 2,000 shoppers surged into the store for the annual Black Friday sale in Valley Stream, N.Y. OSHA said the store's failure to implement reasonable and effective crowd management practices put workers at risk.
Wal-Mart disputed the citation before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, an independent federal agency. A commission chief administrative law judge upheld the citation which carried a proposed fine of $7,000, the maximum penalty amount for a serious violation.
OSHA noted that during its investigation the company implemented crowd control measures storewide and the National Retail Federation promoted these practices to its members. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, is urging retailers to implement crowd management practices ahead of sales.
Crowd control measures. OSHA has issued a fact sheet on crowd control management measures. It includes information on planning, setup, during the sale, and emergency situations.
Among the recommendations are:
- Have trained security or crowd management personnel or police officers on-site where large crowds are expected.
- Create a detailed staffing plan designating a location for each worker. Determine the number of workers needed in various locations based on the size of the expected crowd.
- Prepare an emergency plan that addresses potential dangers to workers, including overcrowding, crowd crushing, being struck by the crowd, violent acts, and fire. Share the plan with local public safety agencies.
- Train workers in crowd management procedures and the emergency plan and give them an opportunity to practice the special event plan.
- Set up barricades or rope lines for crowd management before customers arrive. Set the barricades so the customers' line does not start at the entrance to the store to allow for orderly crowd management. Also, make sure the barricade lines have an adequate number of breaks and turns at regular intervals to reduce the risk of customers pushing from the rear and possibly crushing others, including workers.
- Consider using numbered wristbands or tickets to provide earlier arriving customers with first access to sale items.
- Shortly before opening, remind the waiting crowds of the entrance process, such as limiting entry to small groups or redemption of wristbands.
- Make sure all employees and crowd control personnel are aware when doors are about to open.
- Staff the entrances with uniformed guards, police, or other authorized personnel.
- Position security or crowd managers to the sides of the entering or exiting public, not in the center of their path.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
April 18, 2011
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