The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has prepared a fact sheet providing crowd control guidelines for retailers to protect workers during major sales events.
Last year 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. The store was not using the kind of crowd control measures recommended in OSHA's fact sheet.
"Crowd-related injuries during special retail sales and promotional events have increased during recent years," said acting Assistant Secretary for OSHA Jordan Barab. "Many of these incidents could be prevented, and this fact sheet provides retail employers with guidelines for avoiding injuries during the holiday shopping season."
The fact sheet provides employers with recommended elements for crowd control plans. Plans should include having trained security personnel or police officers on site, setting up barricades or rope lines for pedestrians and crowd control well in advance of customers arriving at the store, making sure that barricades are set up so that the customers' line does not start right at the entrance of the store, preparing an emergency plan that addresses potential dangers, and having security personnel or customer service representatives explain approach and entrance procedures to the arriving public.
OSHA also recommends not allowing additional customers to enter the store when it reaches its maximum occupancy level and not blocking or locking exit doors.