Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

How can Pittsburgh businesses keep shoppers safe on Black Friday?

With the Thanksgiving holiday already a memory, many of our Pittsburgh readers are spending the weekend celebrating the official start of the 2012 holiday shopping season. Although Black Friday is a fun tradition for many Pennsylvania residents, it can also be a dangerous day.

In 2008, a Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death when the store opened on Black Friday and an estimated 2,000 shoppers rushed through the doors to get to their deals. The worker reportedly died of asphyxiation after being crushed by the oncoming crowd. Following an investigation into the store's procedures, the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) found that the store had failed to implement reasonable and effective crowd management principles. This, OSHA stated, included the failure to effectively train employees on how to manage the crowds and keep both workers and shoppers safe.

To avoid future incidents such as that one, OSHA has issued several recommendations for businesses and retailers on how to adopt and enforce crowd management plans for the busy holiday shopping season. According to the OSHA recommendations, retailers' crowd management plans should include the following:

  • On-site security guards;
  • Clearly marked and secure barricades;
  • A detailed explanation of protocols and procedures to give to shoppers;
  • An awareness of how many people are in the store so as to not exceed maximum occupancy; and
  • Emergency procedures in case of accidents.

Did you hit the stores on Black Friday? If so, did you experience any potentially-dangerous situations at local businesses?

Source: EHS Today, "OSHA Wants Retailers to Make Black Friday Safer for Workers," Sandy Smith, Nov. 16, 2012

At our Pittsburgh law firm, we represent clients who have suffered injuries such as those discussed above. For more information, please see our premises liability page.

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