As the biggest shopping day of the year approaches, retail workers ought to be mindful of the potential for safety issues created by crowded stores and the high energy environment of Black Friday.
Concerns about shopper safety have long been voiced since the hustle and bustle of the event is known as a time of fights over the last Teddy Ruxpin or Tickle-Me Elmo doll. But since the well-publicized trampling death of a Wal-Mart employee on Black Friday in 2008, concerns have arisen for the safety of workers as well.
Precautions to Protect Retail Workers
In response to these concerns, OSHA has issued crowd control recommendations for the retail industry to follow to promote worker safety during major sales and promotional events. These recommendations include such common sense ideas as:
- Hire additional staff—particularly additional security workers;
- Establish barricades and line formation rules to ensure orderly entry;
- Place employees outside of the store to monitor entry and explain procedures to customers waiting;
- Provide outdoor amenities for the customers waiting outside if necessary;
- Manage the number of customers permitted in the store at any given time and limit occupancy to safe capacities;
- Provide separate entrances to the store for employees only and prevent customers from entering through them;
- Use communications technology to ensure coordination between staff outside monitoring the crowd and staff inside;
- Keep First Aid kits and other emergency medical supplies on hand; and
- Put in place an evacuation plan to avoid trampling and scrambling in the event of an emergency.
Of course, these measures are only one approach. Some retailers, such as REI, are simply avoiding the whole event altogether and closing their stores. It is not expected that many businesses will follow suit, however.
Other Safety Hazards
Crowd control is not the only potential hazard for retail employees this season though. The uptick in sales volume also means more product movement, which means more freight deliveries (meaning more transport and heavy equipment hazards), more ergonomic hazards, and more of the typical concerns that come from stocking goods on the shelf. These hazards receive less attention because they are the standard hazards that retail workers face. But they are more intensified due to increased volume, and this increase in volume will remain steady throughout the season well beyond Black Friday. Retail workers should keep these things in mind as well and remember to continue exercising caution as their busiest season approaches.
Contact an Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you are in the retail industry, we hope you and your employer will take all feasible safety precautions this season. But regardless of your profession, if you are injured on the job you are entitled to compensation. Contact the attorneys at Bader Scott Injury Lawyers for a free case evaluation today. We are highly qualified and experienced in a wide range of workers’ compensation issues. We will fight hard to ensure a just and timely resolution to your claim.