OSHA to Retailers: Make Black Friday Safer for Workers

Is a $20 Black Friday bargain worth trampling a worker who earns $9 an hour?

In 2008, at a Long Island Wal-Mart, over 2,000 people trampled into the store five minutes before it was scheduled to open. The crowd pushed it open, knocking the doors off their hinges and blasting it apart. The employees all of a sudden had to form a human chain to slow down the crowd that kept pouring. Eventually, the crowd ended up trampling a 34-year-old temporary employee.

As other employees tried to help the man, the crowd knocked them over, pummeling the man to death. The crowd shouted angrily and kept shopping when store officials said they were closing because of the employee’s death.

Crowd Control Guidelines for Black Friday

Walmart Black Friday

Customers shops from hundreds of deals at Walmarts Black Friday event on Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018 in Bentonville, Ark. (Gunnar Rathbun/AP Images for Walmart)

OSHA’s inspection found that the store failed to implement effective crowd control guidelines. The employees weren’t provided with the necessary training and tools to safely manage the crowd of gung-ho shoppers.

Under the Federal Law (the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970) which created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employers are responsible for providing a place of employment free of hazards. After the 2008 Black Friday tragedy, OSHA released an annual set of “Crowd Management Safety Guidelines” for retailers to follow. This contains safety guidelines for retail stores to prevent worker injuries and deaths.

With thoughtful planning and effective crowd management guidelines, everyone can have a safe and happy holiday season. During the bustling holiday season, retail employees should not be put at risk of injury or death. The HR Digest urges retailers to take the time to adopt OSHA’s crowd control safety guidelines to prevent unnecessary trauma to retail workers.

Priyansha Mistry
Currently editor at The HR Digest Magazine. She helps HR professionals identify issues with their talent management and employment law. | Priyansha tweets at @PriyanshaMistry

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