During this end of year holiday season, the US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has encouraged retail employers to implement safety measures to prevent workplace injuries during major sales events. According to OSHA, tragic consequences and risk to workers can occur if the proper safety procedures are ignored. For example, in 2008, a retail worker was trampled to death when shoppers rushed through the store to take advantage of holiday sales.
OSHA sent letters to major retailers to remind employers 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. 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.
The OSHA letter sent to major retailers, retail associations and fire associations can be viewed at https://www.osha.gov/ooc/alerts-letters.html#letters.