With retailers days away from the biggest shopping day of the year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is reminding stores to take steps to ensure no one gets hurt in the rush for bargains.
The stakes for retail workers are high. In 2008, a Wal-Mart employee was killed after being trampled, when a surging crowd broke through the door and stormed the store in search of bargains.
The latest OSHA guidelines, released late last week, include a lot of common-sense steps, such as "Set up barricades or rope lines for crowd management well in advance of customers arriving at the store" and "Make sure that all employees and crowd control personnel are aware that the doors are about to open."
But other bullet points make the danger clear. Stores are advised to "Position security or crowd managers to the sides of entering (or exiting) public, not in the center of their path" - a way to avoid potential trampling incidents. Retailers should also "Keep first-aid kits and Automated External Defibrillators" on-hand, to treat any injuries or cardiac incidents that occur.
"Locate shopping carts and other potential obstacles or projectiles inside the store and away from the entrance, not in the parking lot," OSHA advises. And "Ensure that barricade lines have an adequate number of breaks and turns at regular intervals to reduce the risk of customers pushing from the rear and possibly crushing others, including workers."