Safety Tips for Holiday Workers

For retailers, Black Friday is the most important (and anticipated) shopping day of the year. Many stores hire temporary workers to stock and prepare additional inventory. With a crush of anticipated shoppers and untrained employees, the risk of accidents only increases. Many people remember the deadly stampede that killed a Wal-Mart employee during a Black Friday rush in 2008.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers a number of tips so that store owners and other retailers may minimize the risk of workplace injuries.

Planning – With regarding to crowd management, employers should create detailed staffing plans to ensure the safety of the event. This may include having additional security to properly direct shoppers, practicing safety procedures, and providing legible and visible signs that describe entrance locations. Employers should ensure that the store meets all public safety requirements, and notify local police and fire departments of the sale.

Pre-Sale Setup – Retailers should also take appropriate steps to organize entry and exit from the store. This would include setting up rope lines or barricades well in advance to control customer entry. These access controls should be set up away from the store entrance so that crowds may be divided up into smaller groups. A controlled entry will reduce the likelihood that customers will push from behind and minimize the risk that others would be crushed or trampled as eager shoppers rush through the entrance.

Employee Safety – With regard to employees, employers should allow a reasonable amount of time for workers to stock additional merchandise in anticipation of the event. Managers and team leads should give detailed instructions on how to handle heavy or awkward merchandise in order to avoid injuries or accidents. Also, teams should be designated for merchandise stocking, store set-up, customer service and clean up. Lastly, all employees should be familiar with emergency procedures and be trained on how to notify store personnel should the need arise.