By  on May 27, 2009

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration cited Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for inadequate crowd management on Tuesday for the Black Friday trampling death of an employee at a Long Island store.

The worker, Jdimytai Damour, died of asphyxiation after he was knocked to the ground and trampled by thousands of shoppers who stampeded the store for its “Blitz Friday” pre-holiday sales event on Nov. 28.

OSHA proposed a $7,000 fine, the maximum possible under the law. Wal-Mart has 15 business days to respond to or contest the citation. If the company contests the citation, it will go before an administrative law judge with the Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission, an independent body that will rule on the citation and any potential fine.

If Wal-Mart does not contest the citation, OSHA and the retailer will work out a settlement, said a spokesman for the Department of Labor.

“This was an unusual situation, but not an unforeseen one,” said Anthony Ciuffo, OSHA’s acting area director for Long Island. “The store should have recognized, based on prior ‘Blitz Friday’ experiences, the need to implement effective crowd management to protect its employees.”

A spokeswoman for Wal-Mart said, “We disagree with the type of citation issued. There’s no OSHA or retail industry guidance that would have alerted us to this type of unforeseeable incident. We expect to resolve this matter in a constructive manner that fosters the safety and well-being of our associates.”

Earlier this month, Wal-Mart reached a settlement with the Nassau County District Attorney to avoid possible criminal prosecution. The retailer agreed to pay $1.5 million to Nassau County Social Services and created a $400,000 victims fund, and agreed to develop an independently approved crowd management plan for its New York stores.

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