OSHA is encouraging CEOs of 14 major retail companies to take precautions to prevent worker injuries during Black Friday and the holiday season’s other major sales events. Toward that end, OSHA has sent a letter and fact sheet on “Crowd Management Safety Tips for Retailers” to the CEOs. OSHA published the fact sheet prior to Black Friday 2009 in response to the 2008 Black Friday death of a Long Island, New York, Wal-Mart employee who was trampled to death when a crowd of shoppers rushed through the doors of the store to take advantage of the after-Thanksgiving Day sales event. The store was not using the kind of crowd management measures recommended in the OSHA fact sheet.
“Crowd-related injuries during special retail sales and promotional events have increased during recent years,” said Assistant Secretary for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. “Many of 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 in place emergency procedures that address potential dangers; and having security personnel or customer service representatives explain approach and entrance procedures to the arriving public. OSHA also recommends that exit doors not be blocked or locked and that, when the maximum occupancy level is reached, retailers not allow additional customers to enter the store.