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OSHA Asks for Extra Safety Precautions during Holiday Sales Events

Twinkly lights, red nosed reindeer, snow frosted trees and intricate flakes have started appearing in store windows all over Ohio, an indication that the holiday season is just around the corner. With the holiday season comes holiday sales. Beginning with Black Friday, the annual day after Thanksgiving sale, November and December are two of the busiest shopping months of the year.

Officials with the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration have asked for retail owners' assistance this season in making stores a safe place for their employees in the hopes to prevent workplace injuries. OSHA drafted a fact sheet on "Crowd Management Safety Tips for Retailers" and sent it accompanied by a letter to 14 major retailers.

The heightened awareness for crowd management was in part prompted by a 2008 workplace accident in which a mob of consumers eager for holiday sales, trampling down a retail worker. The retail worker died as a result of the injuries he sustained in the "stampede."

Assistant Secretary of OSHA, Dr. David Michaels reported an increase in the number of injuries related to sizeable crowds at retail locations during large sales and promotional events. "Many of these incidents can be prevented by adopting a crowd management plan, and this fact sheet provides employers with guidelines for avoiding injuries during the holiday shopping season," he said about the letter and guide sent out to the retailers.

Some safety precautions include restricting customer access when maximum occupancy levels have been met, employing extra security, creating defined lines and barricades and preparing for emergency situations.

Source: United States Department of Labor "US Labor Department's OSHA encourages major retailers to provide crowd management measures to protect workers during Black Friday, other sales events" Diana Petterson and Jason Surbey 11/3/10

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