Two years ago, a temporary employee working at a Wal-Mart in New York was killed when frenzied Black Friday shoppers trampled, and then suffocated him. A crowd of 2,000 shoppers stormed the locked doors of the store, broke through, injured the workers trying to hold the shoppers back and killing Jdimytai Damour. The subsequent OSHA investigation resulted in $7,000 fine to Wal-Mart because although there exists no OSHA standard on crowd control, employers have a general duty to provide a workplace free of recognized hazards that could cause serious injury or death, and, OSHA argued, Wal-Mart should have been aware of the hazards present in a riled-up, bargain-hungry crowd and should have provided adequate crowd control measures. They had created the mob, and then were unable to anticipate a mob - or then control that mob.
Wal-Mart has spent millions of dollars fighting the citation, arguing that this is an expansive reading of OSHA’s general duty clause. The case is currently before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC), and a decision is expected soon. Not in time for this Black Friday, though.
Retailers and the media actively whip up consumers with early store openings, “doorbuster deals” for the first customers, and news stories (and don't forget all that awesome free publicity on local and national news outlet) about people camping outside of stores days ahead. This atmosphere creates a deal-crazed mob that endangers employees and consumers. Recognizing this, OSHA has sent a letter to major retailers detailing security measures that they should take to avoid a similar tragedy. Suggestions include setting the waiting area back from the entrance to control entry, as well as including breaks and turns in the waiting line to avoid crowd swells and pushes from the rear. You may recognize this type of line from your bank or Disney World. OSHA also suggests removing carts and other instruments that could be used as a battering ram. Come on, people?
If you are planning to participate in Black Friday events, be safe, be respectful, and remember that it’s just a goddamned laptop. Why don't you morons who are whipped up into this murderous frenzy go and get some internet access? I casually found the Target Toy Story 3 DVD for the same price as the 'doorbuster' on Amazon. Triple bonus - not standing outside, waiting in line, or paying taxes.