Walmart To Pay $7,000 OSHA Fine In Worker Death

Earlier this month, Walmart avoided criminal charges in the trampling death of a worker at a Long Island store last November by setting up a $400,000 victims’ compensation fund and giving $1.5 million to local non-profits and social service programs. But that settlement didn’t stop an ongoing investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Now, the government agency has announced the results of its probe, declaring that workers were put at risk “due to the store’s failure to implement reasonable and effective crowd management principles.” The company will be fined the maximum penalty allowed: $7,000. Walmart has 15 days to appeal or pay up.

Wal-mart cited in trampling [Newsday]

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  1. calquist says:

    $7,000 for putting workers lives at risk? I probably spend more than that on their $5 dvd bin each year.

  2. Aidan Roche says:

    Absolutely disgusting. Yes, $7,000 will surely be enough to make Walmart change their business practices on Black Friday to actually create a safe work environment.

    I can’t even decide who should be more ashamed. Walmart or the idiotic customers so hell-bent on getting a “deal” that they collectively killed a human being.

    • hedonia says:

      @Aidan Roche: The customers, for sure. They’re the ones who stepped on another human being and didn’t stop to help him up, and then stood around gawking and laughing while he was dying on the ground. They had video footage, those people should have had charges brought against them.

      • henwy says:

        @hedonia:

        This fine is bullshit. There is nothing reasonable about a hoard of assholes ripping the door off the hinges and then trampling a man to death. You’d think that the fact that they had a door was enough. Most people wouldn’t think they’d have to get their front test stampede proof’ed.

    • Petah says:

      @Aidan Roche:
      The key phrase “is maximum amount allowed”. I’m sure OSHA would love to impose a greater fine, but until Congress enacts a law to increase the fine, $7000 is what the United States feels is the maximum amount that “putting a worker at risk” is worth.

  3. FooSchnickens - Full of SCAR says:

    Well, now we have a definitive answer for what the street price of a life is.

    Well done, OSHA.

  4. YamiNoSenshi says:

    In the time it takes you to read this comment, Walmart has made more than enough to pay the fine.

  5. Fatty Shcock says:

    Sadly, that kind of fine that OSHA is slapping on Walmart is the norm to their standards. I mean, look at Disney World. When employees died in their parks, they never slapped a fine larger than $10,000, I believe.

  6. Riff Raff says:

    1. I’m betting 90/10 that Wal-Mart appeals.

    2. It’s obvious Wal-Mart doesn’t care about those meatbag drones or shoppers. Does anyone honestly think a company that takes full advantage of their non-union status would actually grieve over the deaths of their employees? Wally has a history of forcing these people to work overtime without actually paying for said overtime.

    3. The apathetic police and/or rent-a-cops, and ravenous shoppers that day weren’t exactly innocent either. For once, I actually think Wal-Mart is getting a bad rap for something they weren’t entirely at fault for. (Oh god I feel sick now…)

    • Megalomania says:

      @Riff-Raff: I’m betting 100:0 that Walmart pays that with money found in an exec’s jogging shorts. It’s $7,000. That’s not even a disastrous fine if a regular person has to pay it and not a massive corporation. Plus, what’s 1.9 million plus 7,000? As near to 1.9 million as makes no difference.

  7. Nighthawke says:

    OSHA would have nailed them for more if it were not for that hard ceiling. I’m certain that the agency will be back for more scrutinizing of the company’s practices.

    Capital murder is really not the thing to have hanging around your neck, especially if your a company and it happens in your place of business and it’s your fault.

    • MooseOfReason says:

      @Nighthawke: Explain how this was Wal-Mart’s fault.

      • DrGirlfriend says:

        @MooseOfReason: Walmart’s share of responsibility for this incident has been discussed ad nauseum in this site. If you peruse previous posts, you will find the argument against Walmart.

        • Cyberxion101 says:

          @DrGirlfriend: He shouldn’t have to do that. There’s no harm in providing him with the information he’s out for.

          Besides, I was around for that debacle, and I can’t remember any compelling evidence being presented that would put responsibility for this on Wal-Mart. At least not any that didn’t read like it was motivated by anti Wal-Mart sentimentality. :P

        • MooseOfReason says:

          @DrGirlfriend: If the customers were capable of knocking down doors, I don’t think they’d have any trouble knocking over a couple rent-a-cops.

          Tasers are out of the question. They’re dangerous and there’s room for abuse. Not too mention there would be an angry article posted here about Wal-Mart turning into Blackwater.

          You felt compelled to type a paragraph telling me to search elsewhere. I doubt it would have taken more energy (oh god, I’ve got blisters!) to quickly list reasons why it was Wal-Mart’s fault.

  8. Shoelace says:

    Walmart avoided criminal charges, which couldn’t have been cheap. A $7000 maximum fine from OSHA? Big deal. OSHA needs to get itself some teeth.

  9. GenerousHelpingOf_GitEmSteveDave says:

    Is there such a thing as OSHA approved cattle prods? Can we put greeters on horses(trust me it works)? Perhaps a Wal-Mart brand German Shepard to keep the greedy bastards at bay? Perhaps body armor?

    Jdimytai Damour, you will not be forgotten.

  10. LilBadKitty says:

    $7,000 is the maximum penalty for killing an employee? (looking around furtively at co-workers and considering her options…)

    In all seriousness, this is horrifying. Did Wal-Mart have to compensate his family at all? Was the $400,000 from Wal-Mart or did they just set up the fund and the $400,000 was donated?

    • MooseOfReason says:

      @LilBadKitty: LilBadKitty, Wal-Mart didn’t kill Jdimytai. The shoppers did, after they collectively knocked the door down and stampeded over him.

      • supercereal says:

        @MooseOfReason: +1

        But this would definitely be a good way to make some quick money:
        1) Set a crazed mob of soccer moms outside a very wealthy person’s house
        2) Have the mob break down the door and trample the butler to death
        3) Sue the homeowner for murder
        4) …
        5) Profit!

  11. sljepi says:

    I work with safety professionals whose work is based on OSHA regulations. OSHA is designed in the 70′ies to prevent accidents and to set standards which “the industry” has to follow. Their job is not to prosecute but to design and enforce safety standards that will save lives.

    Here is OSHA violation and penalty schedule:
    Penalty________In dollars per day
    Non-serious——$0-7,000
    Serious———-$0-7,000
    Repeat———–$0-7,000
    Willful———–$25,000 minimum and 70,000 maximum
    Failure to abate–$0-7,000

    There is a bill going through congress which will most likely triple these fines.

    • Prole says:

      @sljepi: Okay, so OSHA exists to ensure that employers have safe procedures and work environments. To lend some perspective, these fines accrue for each day that a company is found to be out of compliance.

      Additionally, each violation can stack with another violation. So Serious, Repeat, and Willful, can stack on each other. This can represent a serious fine over a period of days, but if corrected quickly it’s a small fine. It’s meant to provide motivation for a company to address concerns quickly.

      It is not OSHA’s function to punish a company for an employee’s death. That’s why they had criminal charges. It is OSHA’s function to address the procedures and environment that contributed to the death.

    • Rachacha says:

      @sljepi: Hopefully the bill will be written better than the CPSIA (Consumer Product safety Improvement Act) that they passed to “improve” the CPSC last year.

    • oneandone says:

      @sljepi: @Prole: Thanks for outlining these. It seems like a lot of people believe that OSHA controls the laws on workplace safety, rather than the regulations that operate within the authorities/limits outlined by Congress.

  12. razremytuxbuddy says:

    I presume the OSHA fine is low because it is considered Walmart’s first violation of this type. With OSHA rules, it’s not the amount of the fine that scares employers; it’s how hard OSHA will come down on them if the violation is ever repeated. Walmart now MUST establish and carry out safety measures to protect its employees from unruly crowds. If another employee is injured or killed under similar circumstances, the punishment imposed on Walmart will be substantial.

  13. Anonymous says:

    While I certainly fully agree with the other commenters that $7,000 is a ludicrously trivial amount to fine Wal-Mart, it is important to remember that OSHA enforcement actions are not actually designed to punish the perpetrator or compensate the victim. OSHA is tasked with enforcing compliance with its regulations. Our system provides mechanisms for punishing “manslaughter” (the criminal justice system) and assigning the liability that attaches to a tortious wrongful death (a civil action). In this case of the latter, Wal-Mart’s liability could well be in the tens of millions of dollars.
    So, yes, the OSHA fine is a jioke, but it’s hardly the last word on the subject.

  14. baristabrawl says:

    Wow! $7,000? That isn’t even equivalent to the cost of the funeral.

    I have thought about this and it’s too bad you can’t find those people that trampled someone to death. I think they should have to pay, too.

    That crap about guilt being enough punishment is ignorant. They most likely don’t think about it at all.

  15. henwy says:

    This was a bullshit fine to begin with. The people who knocked the door off its hinges and then trampled the guy should be the ones to pay a fine and serve time. This was not a case where the doors opened up and people went through it causing a ruckus as I recall. These animals knocked down a fucking door and then stampeded the guy as he was walking pass. No store should anticipate assholes doing that. I’ve never heard of another stampede like this where people actually broke down the doors ahead of opening.

    • shepd says:

      @henwy:


      + Watch video

      Ikea, London.

    • korybing says:

      @henwy: Well, it’s not shopping related, but there was that Who concert where the crowds busted down the doors to get to their seats and trampled a guy in the process, killing him. I don’t know any specific examples that are SHOPPING related, but mob mentality is horrific.

      I don’t understand it. I see all those people lining up for Black Friday “deals” and I just go “ew no thanks” and stay in my house. No deal is worth being in that sea of humanity.

      • HogwartsAlum says:

        @korybing:

        Right on. I don’t go out on Black Friday either. Even if you don’t go to Walmart or the mall, the traffic is unbelievable.

    • zarex42 says:

      @henwy: Exactly correct.

    • trujunglist says:

      @henwy:

      I give you a temporary heart for actually being right about something. You and I *never* see eye to eye, but there is no doubt in my mind that the people responsible for this are the people that trampled him, not Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart can only do so much in the end. If people are going to act like a herd of wild buffalo then there’s not much you can do except start shootin’ the fuckers.

      *rips out own heart and gives it to henwy*

      • supercereal says:

        @trujunglist: With all the hype and attention this story has gotten over time, folks just needed a scapegoat to point the finger at and take large sums of money from. Apparently it’s too difficult to go over the people who actually killed the guy, so the fines go to the easiest target.

        It’s unfortunate that personal responsibility goes out the window when people are in large groups…

  16. axiomatic says:

    Dear world,

    Walmart thinks your life is worth $7000. But today’s super saver savings will get it for you at $6999.66.

    (shhhh don’t tell anyone that 999 is 666 upside down… the debbil!)

  17. rhys1882 says:

    $7000 is the max fine? No wonder companies don’t fix their problems. It’s probably cheaper to pay the fine then fix them.

    • Rachacha says:

      @rhys1882: The fines are really geared towards OSHA inspectors finding violations when they visit an employer. Typically the inspector will give a certain number of days to fix the violation, and if they don’t they get hit with the per day fine (max 7000), and a repeat fine on top of that. So assuming a $5000/day fine, and it took 10 days to fix, that would be a $50,000 fine.

      In this situation it appeared to be an isolated incedent, and Walmart apparently tried to rectify the situation (kicking everyone out of the store) as soon as they became aware of the incident.

  18. CreativeLinks says:

    Easy people. Lets remember that wal-mart paid close to $2 million in penalties for the insane behavior of shoppers–an act that I am not even sure was wal-marts fault.

    When an insane mob rips doors off hinges and runs into your store, I am not sure exactly what managers at Wal Mart could have done to prevent this.

    Now that we are aware Black Friday shoppers are animals, measures can be taken to prevent it from happening again.

  19. almightytora says:

    Time to cut those wages about 50 cents an hour to cover their $7,000 loss!

  20. dave_coder says:

    @undefined: @HIV 2 Elway: Absolutely sir. The shoppers who did this should be brought to trial not the store that simply advertised a sale and didn’t expect wacko consumers.

  21. Mari Walker says:

    I honestly wonder what that Walmart store could have done to prevent the employee’s death. What exactly can you do to control that level of crazy?

    That $7000 fine is ridiculous, though.

  22. jcargill says:

    $7000?
    Meh.
    Walmart exec bar bill.