OSHA Provides Guide On Safe Crowd Control For Black Friday

Posted on November 19, 2013

When it comes to Black Friday, a lot of articles focus on the ways that shoppers can stay safe from injuries, theft, and financial fraud.  However, there’s another party that has a critical role to play in safety, and that’s the management team at the stores actually having the sales.

Understanding the Black Friday environment is critical for such persons.  Store management teams have to realize that Black Friday (and Thanksgiving night) will be very different from the standard store sale.  Throngs of people are going to descend on the stores en masse, and without the proper preparation, those people can get hurt.  That’s why the people behind Black Friday sales would benefit from the tips on crowd control put together by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

First, you should have an adequate level of staff to control those persons who are going to be lining up and fanning out across the store.  That doesn’t just include your normal part-time and full-time help; you should look into the possibility of hiring security personnel or even inquire about getting a police officer there.  Doing so ensures that settling disputes and maintaining peace won’t fall exclusively to cashiers and stock-persons who have not been trained for such a thing.

Get the necessary permits if you need to, and when all is set up and ready to go, contact the local fire department to make sure that everything is up to code.  If you do this well in advance, officials may be able to highlight those areas of deficiency that could stand to be improved.

When it comes time to actually set up the event, make sure that there are designated places for persons to line up.  If you have ropes and barriers ready to go well in advance of opening hours, people will line up how you want them to and chaos can be avoided.  Make sure those queues double back multiple times; that way, persons pushing forward won’t smash everyone up against the wall or the glass.

Signage should be sufficient not just to point people toward where the sale items are (these should be scattered around the retail outlet to prevent overcrowding), but to other critical areas of the store.  Emergency exits ought to be clearly delineated, as should restrooms.  It’s also not a bad idea to have signs that outline the rules of conduct that shoppers are expected to adhere to.

Once you finally get ready to open the doors, let people in in an intelligent manner.  It’s not always wise to let everyone in at once.  Restrict entry to a certain amount of people at a time, waiting a given interval before the next group goes in.  In this way, you can be sure that people won’t be trampled or injured in some other manner.

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