Black Friday events tend to bring shoppers out in droves, leaving stores to deal with crowd control issues and angry shoppers. Unfortunately, in many cases, it is the workers at the stores who are left to handle the Black Friday crowds.
If a store is not prepared or if the store doesn't have effective crowd control and safety policies in place, this can be a recipe for disaster. In 2008, for example, OSHA reports that a worker was trampled to death by customers stampeding to get into a store. This tragic event is not an isolated incident either, as many workers and shoppers have been seriously injured or even killed in Black Friday shopping incidents.
Because of the increased risk of workplace accidents on Black Friday and throughout the busy holiday shopping season, our Atlanta work injury attorneys want to remind both employers and employees of some safety tips.
Avoiding Black Friday Safety Risks
Employers are in the best position to prevent worker injuries on Black Friday. OSHA urges retailers to take proper precautions for crowd management and has provided some key tips including:
- Employing trained security and having a sufficient number of security professionals on-site to maintain control.
- Establishing a location for rope lines and barricades where people can wait to enter the store. This location should be away from the doors to the store in order to avoid a mad rush into the store when it first opens.
- Having a detailed crowd control plan and putting efforts in place prior to customers arriving on Black Friday.
- Creating a contingency plan in case an emergency arises.
- Having detailed store rules and educating customers and staff on the rules.
- Enforcing maximum occupancy limits so customers do not overcrowd stores that are already full.
- Ensuring that exit doors are kept open and accessible.
By following these tips, employers can help to make sure that their employees do not fall victim to Black Friday injuries.
Worker Tips for Avoiding Black Friday Safety Risks
Ultimately, it is employers who will need to put comprehensive safety policies in place to protect workers. However, if you are going to be working on Black Friday, you can also take some steps to protect yourself as well. For instance, you may wish to consider:
- Wearing comfortable clothing and shoes that provide good traction.
- Learning where security is in the store and discussing with security personnel how you can get help if you need it.
- Speaking up if a dangerous situation seems to be arising. You aren't obligated to risk your life to control crowds for your employer.
It is also important to remember that if you are a worker injured in an accident, your employer's workers compensation insurer can become responsible for paying all costs associated with the workplace injury. This includes medical costs as well as temporary or permanent disability benefits and lost wages if the injuries result in missing work.