Sunday, November 29, 2009

OSHA Releases Crowd Control Guidelines

On November 17, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued some holiday specific directives in a fact sheet providing crowd control guidelines for retailers to protect workers during major sales events to lower the risk of crowd related accidents.

"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."

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.

OSHA claims in its press release that the employees were exposed to being crushed by the crowd due to the store's failure to implement reasonable and effective crowd management principles, including providing employees with the necessary training and tools to safely manage the large crowd of shoppers.

To prevent similar incidents, OSHA recommends retailers to have trained security personnel or police officers on site, set up barricades or rope lines for pedestrians and crowd control well in advance of customers arriving at the store, make sure that barricades are set up so that the customers’ line does not start right at the entrance of the store, prepare an emergency plan that addresses potential dangers, and have 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.