The U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is worried about safety during Black Friday sales events. Just one week before the Thanksgiving kick-off to Christmas shopping, OSHA reached out to major retailers with advice on crowd control and safety.
An after-Thanksgiving Day Black Friday sales event in 2008 resulted in a fatality. A worker opening a large retail store was trampled to death when shoppers rushed through the store entrance to take advantage of the holiday sales. OSHA hopes that retailers can avoid similar tragedies through crowd management and safety precautions.
OSHA sent letters to major retailers as well as retail and fire associations nationwide reminding employers and fire chiefs about the potential hazards. With large crowds at retail stores during the holiday season, the risk is even greater during sales events which attract a higher number of shoppers. Retailers were encouraged to use the safety guidelines provided in the OSHA fact sheet , “Crowd Management Safety Guidelines for Retailers.” They were also reminded to maintain appropriate access to exit routes and ensure that exits are not blocked.
Sadly, Black Friday is becoming increasingly dangerous. CNN reported that violence marred Black Friday shopping in at least seven states last year. At one large national chain store, a woman doused fellow shoppers with pepper spray in a bid to snag a discounted video game console.