Online guidelines available

OSHA is encouraging retail employers to implement safety measures to prevent workplace injuries during major holiday sales events.

Tragic consequences and risk to workers can occur if the proper safety procedures are ignored. In 2008, a retail worker was trampled to death when shoppers rushed through the store to take advantage of holiday sales.

"During the hectic shopping season, retail workers should not be put at risk of injury or death," says Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "OSHA urges retailers to take the time to adopt a crowd management plan and follow a few simple guidelines to prevent unnecessary harm to retail employees."

OSHA sent letters to major retailers to remind employers about the potential hazards involved with managing large crowds at retail stores during the holiday season when sales events attract a higher number of shoppers. Retailers are encouraged to use the safety guidelines, Crowd Management Safety Guidelines for Retailers, provided in the OSHA fact sheet they received.

Crowd management plans should, at least, include:

  • Onsite trained security personnel or police officers
  • Barricades or rope lines for pedestrians that do not start right in front of the store's entrance
  • The implementation of crowd control measures well in advance of customers arriving at the store
  • Emergency procedures in place to address potential dangers
  • Methods for 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

The letter sent to major retailers, retail associations, and fire associations can be viewed here