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Black Friday review: Walmart chaos may attract OSHA fines

In our last post we discussed the Black Friday holiday and the United States Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration's efforts to encourage retailers to use crowd control plans to help prevent customer fights and workplace injuries for employees. OSHA has had its eye on retailers such as Walmart after a 2008 trampling of an employee at a Black Friday event. The employee was crushed under a mob of frenzied shoppers and several other people sustained injuries at that event.

Violations of OSHA regulations can be serious for employers in California and around the country. OSHA fined Walmart for the 2008 trampling incident and continues to target employers of all sizes for Black Friday related safety violations. OSHA violations can also provide the basis for willful misconduct cases and workers' compensation claims. Many of these cases involve employers that are unfairly demonized by overzealous regulators and personal injury attorneys. An experienced workers' compensation defense attorney can help protect an employer's rights and business from the complex ramifications of a workplace injury lawsuit.

Yesterday's Black Friday door busting events resulted in violence in several stores, including a Walmart in Los Angeles' Porter Ranch area. Authorities say that a customer maced her fellow shoppers in order to grab a heavily discounted Xbox video game system. The woman was able to complete her purchases and leave before police arrived at the store. Several customers were treated for irritation from the pepper spray but no one was permanently injured.

No deaths were reported from yesterday's shopping event but authorities across the country responded to shootings and fights throughout Black Friday morning. It unclear what OSHA charges or workers' compensation claims will arise out of yesterday's shopping mishaps.

Source: CNN, "Violence mars Black Friday," Nov. 25, 2011

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