In preparation for what could be the biggest shopping day in American retail history, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is encouraging retail employees to take the necessary precautions to prevent workplace injuries during Black Friday.
As Black Friday begins to rapidly approach, many retailers are focused on any last minute opportunities to drive traffic and increase sales. However, OSHA would like them to remember how important it is to keep workers’ and customers safe during Black Friday sales events.
Numbers are not everything on Black Friday
The busy shopping season should not put retail workers at risk of being injured or killed. 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.
Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA
In an effort to keep safety a priority during Black Friday and the remainder of the holiday shopping season, OSHA sent letters to major retailers as well as retail and fire associations nationwide. The letter included reminders about the potential hazards involved with large crowds at retail stores during the holiday season when sales events attract a higher number of shoppers.
OSHA hopes this effort will encourage retailers to use the safety guidelines provided in the OSHA fact sheet they received, “Crowd Management Safety Guidelines for Retailers,” in addition to their normal Black Friday procedures.
To help prevent Black Friday and other holiday sales events from becoming hazardous, OSHA provided the following crowd management tips as well:
Use on-site trained security personnel or police officers.
Set up barricades or rope lines for pedestrians that do not start right in front of the store’s entrance.
Implement crowd measures well in advance of customers arriving at the store.
Have emergency procedures in place to address potential dangers.
Prepare methods for explaining approach and entrance procedures to arriving public.
Ensure that no additional customers are allowed to enter store once it reaches maximum occupancy level.
Make sure nothing ever blocks or locks exit doors.
This year will mark the fifth anniversary of the death of a worker who died after opening a store on a Black Friday sales event in 2008. The employee was trampled to death by customers who rushed through the doors, hoping to get their hands on some discounted merchandise. OSHA hopes their measures and warnings will prevent anything like this from ever happening again.
With thoughtful planning and implementation of an effective crowd management action plan and maintaining emergency exits free of obstructions, we all can have a safe and happy holiday season.
Dr. David Michales