OSHA has begun a campaign to encourage retailers to initiate crowd management protocols to protect workers during periods of heavy customer traffic such as Black Friday and other major sales events. It has created a fact sheet informing retail employers of recommended actions that can be taken to control chaotic crowds. The initiative is in support of the OSHA Act of 1970, which places employee safety at the feet of employers.
The newly created guidelines address all stages of crowd management; from pre-event planning and setup through the event itself, including preparing for emergency situations. OSHA is recommending that retailers planning for large sales events adopt a plan implementing all of its guidelines to aid in the identification and elimination of potential hazards caused by large crowds. The creation of the new guidelines were largely motivated by the increasing violence taking place at big retail events around the country, include the 2008 death of a retail worker during a Black Friday sale.
OSHA planning guidelines include recommendations such as maintaining a trained security presence on site and creating designated locations for each employee and scaling the number of workers based on the expected size of the crowd. Other tips include designating a worker to call 911 if necessary, providing visible entrance and exit signs, and training all workers in crowd management procedures.
OSHA also recommends creating barricades and well defined customer lines, having workers available to explain entrances procedures, and keeping first-aid kits and defibrillators readily available for use by trained employees.