Crowd-related injuries during special retail sales and promotional events have increased during recent years, both as certain products have become more popular and as people have tightened their budgets. Unfortunately, stories about crowd-related injuries and fatalities make the news every year.
OSHA requires that employers provide employees with a safe and healthy workplace. As a result, OSHA encourages employers to adopt effective safety and health management tools to identify and eliminate work-related hazards, including those caused by large masses of people during busy shopping times such as the holiday season.
The guidelines in this article are designed to help your workers in avoiding injuries during a busy shopping season or other crowded event. Much like other preventive methods, crowd management planning should begin well in advance of the event or season.
If your facility anticipates a large crowd, consider the following planning guidelines well in advance of the event:
- Where large crowds are expected, hire trained security and crowd management personnel or police officers to be on-site.
- Create a detailed staffing plan that designates a location for each employee. Based on the size of the crowd expected, determine the number of employees that are needed at designated locations. These locations may include all entrances, dressing rooms and near popular merchandise.
- Ensure that employees are properly trained to manage the event.
- Contact your local fire and police agencies to determine if the event site meets all public safety requirements. Also ensure that all permits and licenses are obtained, and that local emergency personnel are aware that the event is occurring.
- Designate an employee to contact your local emergency personnel in the event that your event becomes unruly.
- Provide legible and visible signage that provides entrance locations, store opening times and other pertinent information for customers.
- Prepare an emergency plan that addresses potential dangers facing employees, including overcrowding, crowd-crushing, being stuck within a crowd, violence and fires. Share the emergency plan with your local public safety agencies.
- Train all employees on your established crowd management procedures. Provide them with an opportunity to practice the special events plan well ahead of time. Consider also including your local public safety agencies, if necessary.
- Keep first aid kits and Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) available, and have personnel trained in using AEDs and CPR.