Employment Law

OSHA Warns Retailers About Crowd Control

Several years ago a big box employee was trampled to death when a mob of shoppers flooded through the doors of a store holding a Black Friday sales event. The DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued guidelines in mid-November urging retailers to put policies in place to prevent other tragedies during the upcoming holiday shopping season.

“Crowd control and proper planning are critical to preventing injuries and deaths,” said David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “OSHA urges retailers to adopt a crowd management plan during the holiday shopping season that includes a few simple guidelines.”

According to OSHA, a strong crowd management policy should include the following elements:

  • providing rope lines and barricades to keep shoppers from pressing up right in front of store doors;
  • having trained police officers or other security personnel on-site during sales;
  • putting emergency procedures in place before big shopping days;
  • starting any crowd control procedures well  in advance of shoppers arriving;
  • not exceeding stores’ maximum occupancy levels;
  • explaining to shoppers the store’s entry and exit procedures as they arrive; and
  • not locking or blocking doors out of the store.

The agency also distributed copies of a fact sheet that “strongly encourages retailers to take precautions to prevent worker injuries during the holiday season’s major sales events, or at other events where large crowds may gather.” That material outlines proper retailer safety guidelines to follow during planning, pre-event setup, sales events and emergency situations. Proper signage, training, and communication are also highlighted in the tips.

“This time of year, it’s important for retail employers to remember that large crowds can be dangerous to their employers. Rushing, overcrowding and other hazards can turn a holiday sale into a nightmare. OSHA wants to make sure that ‘door busters’ aren’t busting workers,” Michaels said of the agency’s decision to reach out the retailers.

More information about workplace safety is available at http://hr.complianceexpert.com/.