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Ever since the Nov. 28, 2008, trampling death of a Wal-Mart employee in Valley Stream, N.Y., during a stampede of Black Friday shoppers, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released a set of crowd management safety guidelines for retailers at the start of each holiday season.
In letters issued this week to retail trade organizations and chief executive officers of large retail companies, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels explained that crowd control and proper planning are critical to preventing injuries and death.
“The busy shopping season should not put retail workers at risk of being injured or killed,” said Michaels.
Approximately 97 million people plan to shop on Black Friday this year, according to a preliminary shopping survey from the National Retail Federation.
Crowd management planning should begin ahead of events that are likely to draw large crowds, and crowd management, pre-event setup and emergency-situation management should be part of event planning, OSHA advised.
OSHA recommendations for safe crowd management include:
In addition, OSHA cautioned employers to maintain appropriate access to exit routes and to ensure that exits are not blocked.
“With thoughtful planning and implementation of an effective crowd management action plan and maintaining emergency exits free of obstructions, we all can have a safe and happy holiday season,” Michaels said.
Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
Follow him on Twitter @SHRMRoy.
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