A workplace fatality that brought attention to the issue of crowd control in the retail industry appears to be – finally – headed toward a resolution, after Walmart recently withdrew its appeal of a $7,000 OSHA fine over the incident.
News sources report that the retail giant has spent more than $1 million in legal fees over seven years fighting the fine.
An employee named Jdimytai Damour was crushed to death in 2008 by a crowd of shoppers streaming into a Walmart on Long Island for a Black Friday sale. After an investigation, OSHA cited the company for failing to provide Damour with a safe workplace under its general duty clause. According to the clause, employers have a general responsibility to provide a workplace that’s "free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees." An administrative law judge agreed with the citation.
Walmart, arguing that that the company could not have predicted the circumstances surrounding Damour's death, has been fighting the fine ever since.
In the wake of the tragedy, OSHA issued a fact sheet, Crowd Management Safety Guidelines for Retailers. The resource includes tips on Planning, steps to take during the Pre-Event Setup and what to do during the Sales Event and Emergency Situations.
Walmart has developed its own crowd-control measures and schedules sales on specific items in a way that should reduce crowding.
The company has not yet paid the fine. Walmart had sales of $482 billion in fiscal year 2015.