When sales and discounts that seem unbeatable are offered to customers around the time when Christmas shopping begins, who can blame anyone for trying to save some bucks, right? But it seems that year after year, the retail world gains more of a stigma for their Friday after Thanksgiving sales event known as Black Friday.

Every year, retailers become more willing to go to greater lengths to offer these sales. When the event reaches an uncontrollable point in which customers engage in physical fights or the shopping becomes unsafe, however, one starts wondering if it is even worth it.

This year, OSHA has put together a crowd management outline of tips for retailers that are holding sales this Black Friday to take maximum precautions and prevent as many injuries as possible.

“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.”

A crowd management for employees and customers should include the following:

  • 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.

Comments on this subject from Michaels are available for radio stations to rebroadcast. To download the audio file, or view a transcript, visit http://www.osha.gov/ooc/previous-focus.html.