In most of the worker deaths we cover, it’s clear what could have been done to prevent the tragedy – fall protection, cleanup of combustible dust, better crane inspections – and what kinds of regulations are needed to keep such disasters from occurring again. In the death of Jdimytai Damour, though, I can’t summon much anger at his employer. What went wrong at the Valley Stream, NY Wal-Mart at 5 a.m. on Black Friday was instead a failure of basic human decency.
Suddenly, witnesses and the police said, the doors shattered, and the shrieking mob surged through in a blind rush for holiday bargains. One worker, Jdimytai Damour, 34, was thrown back onto the black linoleum tiles and trampled in the stampede that streamed over and around him. Others who had stood alongside Mr. Damour trying to hold the doors were also hurled back and run over, witnesses said. (Robert D. Mcfadden & Angela Macropoulos, New York Times)
Yes, better crowd control policies and security barriers would have helped, and might have save Jdimytai Damour’s life. But should employers have to anticipate that customers will be so bent on saving a few dollars that they’ll break down a door, and continue running even when they realize a fellow human being is under their feet? I hate to think that’s the kind of world we live in. But, apparently, it is.
In other news:
The Scientist: Navy doctors estimate that two-thirds of soldiers returning from Iraq experience respiratory illness, and 36 of them have been diagnosed with a rare and potentially fatal respiratory condition.
Boston Globe: Service Employees International Union Local 1199 has negotiated a contract for 25,000 Massachusetts home care workers that includes a wage increase and healthcare benefits.
New York Times: Arrogant and abusive doctors can make the workplace miserable for those who interact with them, and their bad behavior can endanger patient health.
Associated Press: Now that a Veterans Affairs advisory panel has affirmed that Gulf War Syndrome is an actual illness that should be addressed, veterans are anxious to know how this will translate into treatment.
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: A new Joint Commission report urges hospitals to engage staff in the design process and create workplace cultures that support recruitment and retention.