With the holiday shopping season fast approaching, OSHA is reminding retail employers of steps to take to prevent employee injuries due to large crowds during Black Friday and other sales events.  OSHA has reissued its "Crowd Management Safety Tips for Retailers," which provides guidance to employers to help prevent injuries during the coming months.  OSHA recommends that employers establish a system for crowd management that includes the following main elements:

  • Planning.  Create a detailed staffing plan and train employees in the plan and its implementation.  Emergency response should be considered and appropriate individuals within the organization designated for any emergency response effort.
  • Pre-Event Setup.  Set up barricades or rope lines to control crowds and have employees keep in communication by radios or other means.  Designate employees to communicate with shoppers and others and to explain safety precuations taken.  Consider implementing other crowd management techniques, such as numbered tickets or wristbands.
  • During the Sales Event.  Ensure that employees know when the doors are about to open.  When the maximum occupancy is reached, prohibit additional customers from entering.  Place uniformed guards at entrances, if necessary.
  • Emergency Situations.  Do not block or lock any exit doors and employees should be told to listen to first responders.  First aid kits and AEDs should be available.

There is no OSHA standard regulating crowd management.  But employers are encouraged to take note of OSHA’s guidance and ensure their safety and health systems consider potential hazards during the holiday shopping season.