WASHINGTON — In advance of the holiday season, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration is encouraging retail employers to take precautions to prevent workplace injuries during major sales events, including Black Friday.
This year marks the fifth year anniversary of the death of a worker killed upon opening a large store for an after-Thanksgiving Day Black Friday sales event. In 2008, the worker was trampled to death when shoppers rushed through the store entrance to take advantage of the holiday sales. Retailers can avoid similar tragedies through crowd management and safety precautions.
"The busy shopping season should not put retail workers at risk of being injured or killed," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "OSHA urges retailers to take the time to adopt a crowd management plan and follow a few simple guidelines to prevent unnecessary harm to retail employees."
OSHA sent letters to major retailers as well as retail and fire associations nationwide reminding employers and fire chiefs about the potential hazards involved with large crowds at retail stores during the holiday season when sales events attract a higher number of shoppers. Retailers are encouraged to use the safety guidelines provided in the OSHA fact sheet they received, "Crowd Management Safety Guidelines for Retailers," in addition to their own procedures. They were also reminded to maintain appropriate access to exit routes and ensure that exits are not blocked.
Crowd management plans should, at least, include:
- On-site trained security personnel or police officers.
- Barricades or rope lines for pedestrians that do not start right in front of the store's entrance.
- The implementation of crowd control measures well in advance of customers arriving at the store.
- Emergency procedures in place to address potential dangers.
- Methods for explaining approach and entrance procedures to the arriving public.
- Not allowing additional customers to enter the store when it reaches its maximum occupancy level.
- Not blocking or locking exit doors.
The fact sheet outlining these and other safety measures is available at https://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/Crowd_Control.html. The letters sent to major retailers, retail associations and fire associations can be viewed at https://www.osha.gov/ooc/alerts-letters.html.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.