OSHA Warns Retailers to Control Holiday Crowds

If outrage about a dismal economy really drove the Nov. 2 election results, we can reasonably expect the letter OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels has sent to retail companies won't be needed because Americans won't jam stores and fight over the latest electronic gizmos this year. Michaels reminded 14 CEOS of major retailers of the fatal injury suffered by a store employee two years ago when trampled by Black Friday shoppers, and he included an OSHA fact sheet with tips for controlling crowds.

In the letter, Michaels said his agency "strongly encourages retailers to take precautions to prevent worker injuries during the holiday season's major sales events, or at other events where large crowds may gather."

The guidelines recommend having security guards, police officers, or crowd management personnel present when large crowds are expected, as well as ensuring employees are properly trained and one is designated to contact emergency responders if necessary. For emergency situations, a first aid kit and an AED should be on hand and employees should be trained to use the device and perform CPR, the guidelines state.

"Crowd-related injuries during special retail sales and promotional events have increased during recent years," Michaels said in the agency's news release about the letter and fact sheet. "Many of these incidents can be prevented by adopting a crowd management plan, and this fact sheet provides retail employers with guidelines for avoiding injuries during the holiday shopping season."

The letters were addressed to the chief executives of Dillards, Target Corp., Macys, Wal-Mart Stores, J C Penney Co., Sears Holding Corp., Kohls Corp., TJX Companies, Costco Wholesale Corp., Best Buy, BJ's Wholesale Club, Toys "R" Us Inc., Apple Inc., and IKEA.

Posted by Jerry Laws on Nov 03, 2010