The holiday season is almost here. The dreaded black Friday and Christmas shopping season looms near. In the past few years there have been a growing number of incidences involving retail employees being attacked by shoppers, however, attending to bargain hunters shouldn’t cost workers their lives.
Every year, OSHA encourages retail employers to employ crowd control techniques to keep workers from getting injured during major holiday sales events. In anticipation of the shopping frenzy for November’s Black Friday, we have rounded up a few tips based on OSHA’s recommendations. Specifically, how retail workers can avoid injuries during major sales events. Time to start training your employees on OSHA standards and putting a crowd control and workplace violence prevention program in place:
Keep door busters away. Set up barricades that will keep the customer line a few meters away from the store entrance. This gives personnel enough room to steer clear of the mob.
Hire some muscle. Police officers and trained security personnel can immediately provide much needed assistance to contain wild crowds. Their presence alone works big time in keeping crowd behavior in check.
To keep workers safe, separate. It’s best to separate employee entrances and exits from those of the customers. Also, put barricades or rope lines for pedestrians outside the store before the sales event.
Station customer service representatives at several points inside the store to help customers find their way to their destination aisles or shops. Prior to the sale opening, have these customer representatives’ brief customers in line of entrance procedures.
Enough is enough. Do not let customers in when the store has reached its maximum occupancy level. For the safe passage of people going in and out of the store, do not block or lock exits, or any door for that matter.
Have an emergency response plan. The store should prepare an emergency response plan for employees to observe should untoward incidences occur. The store should also be equipped with first aid and emergency kits.
“This time of year, it’s important for retail employers to remember that large crowds can be dangerous to their employees. Rushing, overcrowding, and other hazards can turn a holiday sale into a nightmare. OSHA wants to make sure that holiday ‘door busters’ aren’t busting workers,” said Assistant Labor Secretary David Michaels in last year’s OSHA press release on Holiday Sale Crowd Control. (Michaels was also probably referring to the incident back in 2008 when a Walmart employee was trampled to death. The worker was a temporary employee.)
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 mandate employers to ensure workers’ rights to a safe and healthful workplace. OSHA is responsible for making sure that the American workforce is informed of their rights and are enabled to do their jobs with training and education. For more safety tips, visit OSHA.gov or check out our previous blog posts.