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Officials encourage retailers to follow crowd management guidelines

Crowd-related injuries, deaths can occur during special sales, promotional events

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Nov. 25, 2013) – With the holiday season upon us and “Black Friday” this week, the Kentucky Labor Cabinet reminds retailers in Kentucky to adopt effective safety procedures for crowd management.

“The holiday season should be a joyful time of year, not a season when retail workers or shoppers are put at risk,” said Larry Roberts, secretary of the Kentucky Labor Cabinet. “Employers are responsible for providing safe workplaces, and there are right and wrong ways to handle special sales and promotions that involve large crowds.”

This year marks the five-year anniversary of the death of a worker who was trampled during an after-Thanksgiving “Black Friday” sales event. In 2008, shoppers rushed through a store entrance to take advantage of holiday sales in New York, killing the worker.

The Kentucky Labor Cabinet’s Kentucky Occupational Safety and Health (KY OSH) Program encourages employers to identify and eliminate work-related hazards and implement crowd management planning ahead of events that are likely to draw large crowds, such as sales events during the holiday shopping season.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has prepared a fact sheet with guidelines for crowd management.

Some of the guidelines included are as follows:

♦ Where large crowds are expected, hire additional staff as needed and have trained security or crowd management personnel or police officers on site.

♦ Create a detailed staffing plan that designates a location for each worker. Based on the size of the crowd expected, determine the number of workers that are needed in various locations to ensure the safety of the event (e.g., near the door entrances and throughout the store).

♦ Ensure that workers are properly trained to manage the event.

♦ Provide legible and visible signs that describe entrance and exit locations, store opening times, and other important information such as the location of major sale items and restrooms.

♦ Set up barricades or rope lines for crowd management well in advance of customers arriving at the store.

♦ Make sure that barricades are set up so that customer lines do not start right at the entrance to the store. This will allow for orderly crowd management entry and make it possible to divide crowds into small groups for the purpose of controlling the entrance.

♦ Ensure that barricade lines have an adequate number of breaks and turns at regular intervals to reduce the risk of customers pushing from the rear and possibly crushing others, including workers.

♦ Designate workers to explain approach and entrance procedures to the arriving public, and direct them to lines or entrances.

♦ Provide a separate store entrance for staff. Provide door monitors there to prevent crowd entry.

♦ Make sure that all employees and crowd control personnel are aware that the doors are about to open.

♦ Position security or crowd managers to the sides of entering (or exiting) public, not in the center of their path.

♦ Do not restrict egress, and do not block or lock exit doors.

For a look at the entire list of guidelines, click here.

For more information on the KY OSH Program, click here.