Consumers will hit the stores tomorrow for Black Friday, when some of the best shopping deals of the year have traditionally take place the day after Thanksgiving. Our Georgia workers’ compensation attorneys know that workers’ in the retail industry probably dread this day more than any other because injuries and accidents won’t be avoided unless employers take steps to prepare a safe work environment.Employees are particularly at risk of Black Friday work injuries in Georgia and elsewhere because shoppers come by the thousands and make work environments overcrowded and unsafe. Sales blitzes also make customers a little crazy and violent for fear of missing out on a great deal which can not only put workers in danger but also other customers.
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration recently released guidelines for employers in the retail industry to follow in order to reduce the risk of work-related injuries during sales events or throughout the holiday shopping season. Employers should tackle crowd control management to induce a safe work environment in three phases: planning, set-up and day of event.
-Hire trained security or police officers for large crowd events.
-Assign workers to a specific area of the store and make sure you have plenty of staff on hand for the event.
-Provide a training seminar to employees so they know how to handle large crowds and can ask questions regarding safety or how to prevent injuries.
-Obtain needed permits or licenses from fire code inspectors as well as alert emergency services of the event.
-Place signage in visible areas that help customers know where to go or what store hours are.
-Prepare an emergency plan in case a dangerous situation arises during the event.
-Advise staff of the emergency plan and make sure they are aware of crowd management procedures.
-Make sure barricades or rope lines are setup securely before the doors open.
-Keep barricades away from store entrances so that bunching does not occur in sales lines where customers are trying to enter the building.
-Have enough staff available to help with directions and guidance to certain lines.
-“Hot” sales items should be advertised as online sales only to prevent a mad rush of customers getting to the desired sale.
-Keep shopping carts gathered in one location rather than spread out all over the parking lot.
-Prepare pamphlets or flyers indicating where entrances, exits, and special sales items are located.
-Provide staff with communicative devices such as radios or cell phones to relay emergency situations.
Day of Sales Event:
-Have crowd control personnel in place before the doors open.
-Never place crowd control managers in the center of where crowds are entering. Position them along both sides of the line.
-If the store has reached maximum capacity, barricade or rope off the line until customers have left and there is more space available.
-Allow people with disabilities to enter a different location.
-Remind staff to be in constant communication with customers, as well as, other co-workers.
Retail employers have a responsibility to keep workers and consumers safe during large crowd events. Preparedness with crowd control management helps employers to reduce the risk of injury and provide a safe environment for everyone.
If you or a loved one work in the retail industry and have suffered an injury from a crowd control problem or other work-related event, contact the worker’s compensation lawyers at J. Franklin Burns, P.C. We offer experienced advice to injured workers throughout Georgia so call for a free consultation at 1-404-303-7770.