A crowd of shoppers hunt for bargains at Macy's on Black Friday in 2008 in New York City. OSHA wants retailers to adopt crowd management plans to protect workers. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

No Deal Is Worth Dying For: OSHA Urges Retailers to Protect Employees

Nov. 17, 2014
Recognizing the fact that holiday sales events, like Black Friday, have turned deadly in the past, OSHA is asking retailers to adopt crowd management plans.

OSHA is asking retail employers to implement safety measures to prevent workplace injuries during major sales events, including Black Friday. In 2008, a retail worker was trampled to death when shoppers rushed through the store to take advantage of holiday sales.

“During the hectic shopping season, retail workers should not be put at risk of injury or death,” 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 from Michaels to the CEOs of major retailers to remind them about the potential hazards involved with managing large crowds at retail stores during the holiday season when sales events attract a higher number of shoppers.

"As the holiday season is approaching, I am writing today to remind you how critical it is to take safety precautions to protect workers who may be injured during the holiday season’s major sales events, such as Black Friday sales, or at other events where large crowds may gather,” Michaels told them.

Retailers are encouraged to use the safety guidelines, Crowd Management Safety Guidelines for Retailers, provided in the OSHA fact sheet they received. 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, and
  • Not blocking or locking exit doors.

OSHA sent a letter to major retailers, retail associations and fire associations, stressing the importance of safety for shoppers and retail workers during the holiday season.

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