OSHA Issues Crowd Management Reminder

This has been an annual outreach by the agency about "Black Friday" sales since a worker was trampled to death Nov. 28, 2008, at a Wal-Mart store in Valley Stream, N.Y.

OSHA has once again issued a reminder to retailers concerning crowd management during "Black Friday" holiday sales events, and it also sent the letter to retail associations and fire associations. The advisory has been an annual event for OSHA since Nov. 28, 2008, when a worker was trampled to death when shoppers rushed into a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. store in Valley Stream, N.Y. OSHA subsequently cited the company for inadequate crowd management, and in March 2011, Chief Administrative Law Judge Covette Rooney of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission upheld the citation and penalty issued to Wal-Mart Stores.

"This busy shopping season should not put retail workers at risk of being injured or killed," said Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. "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."

The advisory recommends using:

  • On-site, trained security personnel or police officers
  • Barricades or rope lines for pedestrians that do not start immediately in front of the retailer's entrance
  • Implementing crowd control measures well before customers arrive at the store
  • Emergency procedures in place to address potential dangers
  • Methods for explaining approach and entrance procedures to arriving customers
  • No allowing additional customers to enter when the store has reached its maximum occupancy
  • Not blocking or locking exit doors

OSHA has posted a fact sheet with these and other measures.

When the judge issued her ruling in the case, Michaels called the decision "a win for both workers and consumers" and said it "supports OSHA's position that, even in the absence of a specific rule or standard, employers are still legally responsible for providing a place of employment free of recognized hazards that are likely to cause serious injury or death. If not properly managed by retailers, a large crowd poses a significant threat to the lives of workers and customers."

OSHA had issued the citation in May 2009.

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