Retailers Urged To Manage Crowds On Black Friday

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The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is encouraging major retail employers to take precautions to prevent worker injuries during Black Friday and other major sales events during the holiday season.

In 2008, a worker was trampled to death while a mob of shoppers rushed through the doors of a large store to take advantage of an after-Thanksgiving Day Black Friday sales event. The store was not using the kind of crowd management measures recommended in OSHA’s fact sheet.

“Crowd control is critical to preventing injuries and deaths,” said OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. “These incidents can be prevented by adopting a crowd management plan, and this fact sheet provides retail employers with guidelines for avoiding injuries during the holiday shopping season.”

The fact sheet provides employers with recommended elements for crowd management plans. Plans should include having trained security personnel or police officers on-site, setting up barricades or rope lines for pedestrians and crowd control well in advance of customers arriving at the store, making sure that barricades are set up so that the customers’ line does not start right at the entrance of the store, having emergency procedures in place that address potential dangers, and having security personnel or customer service representatives explain approach and entrance procedures to the arriving public.

OSHA also recommends not allowing additional customers to enter the store when it reaches its maximum occupancy level and not blocking or locking exit doors.

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