As the holiday season draws near and the volume of sales and shoppers rapidly expands, it is vitally important for retail employers to implement safety measures to prevent workplace injuries. Retail employers need to be aware of the potential hazards of managing large crowds during the holiday season and throughout the year when major sales events attract a much higher number of shoppers.
Implementing a crowd management plan and following a few simple guidelines can greatly reduce the risk of unnecessary harm to retail employees. In order to assist retailers in developing a plan to manage crowds of shoppers, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published a helpful fact sheet, Crowd Management Safety Guidelines for Retailers.
According to OSHA’s safety guidelines, some key elements of an effective crowd management plan 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;
- The implementation of crowd control measures well in advance of customers arriving at the store;
- Emergency procedures in place 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; and
- Not blocking or locking exit doors or routes.
Thoughtful planning and implementation of an effective crowd management action plan can greatly reduce the potential hazards of major sales events and help prevent avoidable injuries or worse to retail employees and customers.