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OSHA to retailers: Protect workers from Black Friday crowds

November 16, 2012

peopleOSHA is encouraging retail employers to take precautions to prevent worker injuries during Black Friday and other major sales events during the holiday season.

In 2008, a worker was trampled to death while a mob of shoppers rushed through the doors of a large store to take advantage of an after-Thanksgiving Day Black Friday sales event. OSHA recommends that retailers follow certain safeguards against this type of tragedy.

"Crowd control and proper planning are critical to preventing injuries and deaths," said Dr. 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."

Crowd management plans should 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.
  • Implementing crowd control measures well in advance of customers arriving at the store.
  • Emergency procedures in place to address potential dangers.
  • Explaining approach and entrance procedures to the arriving public.
  • Not allowing additional customers to enter the store when it reaches its maximum occupancy level.
  • Not blocking or locking exit doors.

A fact sheet outlining these and other safety measures is available at https://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/Crowd_Control.html. A letter that OSHA has sent to major retailers about preventing crowd-related injuries can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/asst-sec/blackfriday_letter_2012.html.