shopping-imageThe holiday season is in full swing, bringing crowded stores and frayed nerves. As a result, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a reminder to retailers about the heightened risk of injuries during the holiday shopping season.

Experts warn that crowding, long lines of shoppers and impatience can lead to Worker’s Compensation and to shoppers. Many people can recall the 2008 death of a worker who was trampled by shoppers when he opened the doors of a large store for a Black Friday sales event.

Retail workers should not face the risk of job-related injury or death during the shopping season, said David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.

OSHA urges retailers to avoid a similar catastrophe by adopting crowd management and safety precautions throughout the holiday season.

OSHA sent letters to major retailers as well as to retail and fire associations throughout the nation about the dangers that often accompany large crowds at holiday sales. OSHA sent them guidelines for safely managing crowds.

The guidelines include:

  • 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.
  • Implementation of crowd control measures well in advance of customers arriving at the store.
  • Emergency procedures 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.

Store owners are responsible for ensuring that their stores are safe and free of known hazards for employees and shoppers. Workers who are seriously injured should talk to a knowledgeable workers compensation injury lawyer about their legal rights.