OSHA: Remember crowd management during holiday sales events

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently released a reminder for retailers to focus on the safety of their employees during the holiday shopping season. Major sales events like Black Friday can cause consumers to become aggressive to secure key deals, and workers can become injured in the process. 

It’s all too easy for a large group of consumers to lose control during a big sale, and shoppers may unintentionally create an unsafe environment for themselves and employees if retailers don’t take special precautions. An employee was killed in 2008 during a Black Friday sale as shoppers rushed through the store entrance. Five years later, OSHA recommends retailers take special care to create a crowd management strategy and train workers about how maintain control.

“The busy shopping season should not put retail workers at risk of being injured or killed,” said David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA. “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.”

According to OSHA, at a minimum, crowd management plans should include:

  • On-site experienced security staff or police officers
  • The use of barricades, such as rope lines or designated path ways, both outside for consumers to enter the store in an orderly fashion and inside to keep shoppers in controlled checkout lanes
  • Crowd control measures, which may include employees directing consumers to enter a certain point-of-sale line
  • Designated entrance procedures, such as only allowing consumers to enter the store in groups every five minutes
  • Emergency procedures in case of a fire or other potential hazards

These precautionary measures may help workers and consumers stay safe while in the store, and OSHA provides additional considerations in its Crowd Management Safety Guidelines for Retailers fact sheet.

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