This Black Friday, Don’t Forget Following OSHA’s Crowd Management Guidelines

Crowd-related injuries during the holiday season’s major sale events such as Black Friday have increased during recent years. A decade ago, a Wal-Mart worker died at the opening of a Black Friday, which led to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) releasing an annual set of “Crowd Management Safety Guidelines” for retailers to follow. The list contains crowd control guidelines for retail stores to prevent worker injuries and deaths.

With thoughtful planning and effective crowd control management, everyone can have a happy and safe holiday season. Retail employees should not be put at risk of injury or death for the sake of making a profit. The HR Digest urges retailers to adopt OSHA Crowd Management Guidelines to identify and eliminate work-related hazards.

OSHA Crowd Management Guidelines

Crowd control safety planning to should begin in advance of events that are likely to large crowds. OSHA recommends the following pre-event setup, during sale events, and emergency situations guidelines as a part of event planning.


Position trained security or crowd management personnel or police officers where large crowds are expected.

Create a detailed plan that designates a location for each employee. Based on the size of the crowd expected, determine the number of employees that are needed at each location to ensure maximum safety.

Ensure the employees are properly trained to manage the event.

Contact police and local fire agencies to determine if the event site meets all public safety requirements, and ensure that all permits and licenses are obtained beforehand. Additionally, ensure the local emergency services, including the local fire and police departments, and hospital, are aware of the event.

Designate an employee to contact emergency responders if necessary.

Provide visible signs that describe entrance locations, store opening times, and other important information related to the event.


Set up barricades, rope lines for crowd management in advance of customers entering the store.

Make sure the barricades are set up such that the line does not start right at the entrance to the store. This should allow the entry to the store to progress in an orderly fashion and divide crowds into smaller groups.

Additionally, ensure the barricade lines include a number of breaks and turns at regular intervals to reduce the risks of customers pushing from the rear and possibly pummeling others, including employees.

Designate employees to direct incoming crowd and explain entrance procedures.

Clear communication is imperative as it prevents crowds from becoming restless or upset.

Update information for customers waiting in line outside the store, verbally or in writing using signs or pamphlets.

Employees outside the store should have radios or some other way to communicate with an employee inside or emergency responders.

If the store has reached maximum occupancy, no customer should be admitted.


Make sure all employees and security personnel are aware that the doors are about to open.

Staff entrances with police, uniformed guards, or other authorized personnel.

Use a public address system or bullhorn to manage the entering crowd and to communicate information or problems.

Position security personnel or crowd-control managers to the sides of the entering public, not in the center of the crowd’s path.

Position security personnel or crowd-control managers at all entrances, including those not being used. If possible, use more than one entrance.

Do not allow additional customers to enter until the occupancy level drops when the stores reach maximum occupancy.

Provide a safe entrance for people with disabilities.


In case of an emergency, do not restrict access to exits. Do not block or lock exit doors.

Keep first-aid kits and Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) on hand and train all employees to use them onsite.

Contact first responders, and instruct employees to follow directions from emergency responders, even if it conflicts with company policy.

Compliance can be simply with OSHA’s Crowd Control Safety Guidelines. The HR Digest urges retailers to instruct employees to follow OSHA’s recommendations to ensure their safety during Black Friday and other large-scale retail events.

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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