Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, an employer has a duty to protect their employees from recognized hazards that could cause serious injuries or death. Some employer responsibilities include:
- Providing employees with proper safety training for various situations,
- Actively evaluating workplace conditions, and
- Establishing health and safety procedures.
When crowds increase, employers should enhance these duties to compensate. This means employers must work harder to protect their employees on high traffic days such as Black Friday. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), nearly 77 million Americans went shopping on Black Friday in 2017. Business owners must prepare for such an influx of customers due to the associated hazards caused by big crowds.
In 2008, a crowd trampled a Wal-Mart employee to death during a Black Friday sale. Since then the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released annual Black Friday crowd management guidelines for retailers to follow. These guidelines aim to reduce the risk of injury to employees and shoppers.
An employer may adopt their own crowd control plan, but they must also avoid violating safety regulations. OSHA recommends a plan for pre-event setup, event management and emergency management. Precautions should include, but are not limited to:
- Additional staff, trained security personnel or police officers need to be on-site
- Additional personnel should have designated locations with assigned duties
- Planned Emergency procedures for various emergency situations
- Barricades or rope lines for shoppers arriving at the store before it opens
- Staff and security personnel outside to direct crowds and remind shoppers of safe entry guidelines
- Visible signs for entrance and exit locations as well as keeping the locations unlocked and clear of obstruction
- Keeping the store within its occupancy requirements
In addition to the points listed above, further guidelines to keep employees safe should include:
- Proper training and practice for crowd management and emergency management
- Communication devices for staff and personnel to contact management or emergency services if needed
- A separate entrance and exit for staff members
For a full list of OSHA’s crowd management guidelines, you can read them here.
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If you have suffered an injury in a workplace accident, you need to talk to an experienced workers compensation attorney. An attorney can help you understand your legal options under Texas workers compensation laws. You may have a viable claim to recover workers compensation and further monetary damages. Call the Law Offices of Aaron Allison at (512) 474-8346 to schedule a free consultation. You can also fill out our online form for a free case review.
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