Somewhere along the way, waiting in long lines for coveted items at bargain prices became a Thanksgiving tradition. Almost all New Jersey retailers now offer some form of “Black Friday” deal.

As stores and shoppers prepare for the holiday shopping rush, safety should be just as important as the sales, according to the Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA). The failure to take proper precautions could result in administrative fines, as well as costly personal injury lawsuits. The OSHA reminder to retailers specifically cites a 2008 incident in which an employee was trampled to death by a rush of shoppers entering the store for a Black Friday sales event.

"The busy shopping season should not put retail workers at risk of being injured or killed," said Dr. David Michaels, the agency’s assistant secretary of labor. “OSHA urges retailers to take the time to adopt a crowd management plan and follow a few simple guidelines to prevent unnecessary harm to retail employees.”

To get the message across, OSHA sent letters to major retailers as well as retail and fire associations nationwide, along with a fact sheet entitled, "Crowd Management Safety Guidelines for Retailers." It makes the following recommendations:

  • On-site trained security personnel or police officers.
  • Barricades or rope lines for pedestrians that do not start right in front of the store's entrance.
  • The implementation of crowd control measures well in advance of customers arriving at the store.
  • Emergency procedures in place to address potential dangers.
  • Methods for explaining approach and entrance procedures to the arriving public.
  • Not allowing additional customers to enter the store when it reaches its maximum occupancy level.
  • Not blocking or locking exit doors.

Of course, New Jersey businesses should tailor their procedures to their stores’ specific sales event. In addition to crowd management, retailers should also have plans in place to address emergency situations and security concerns.

If you have any questions about the OSHA guidelines or would like to discuss the legal issues faced by New Jersey retail businesses, please contact me, Robert Levy, or the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney with whom you work. 

But in order not to get losses these days all retailers are recommended to get Retail Loss Prevention help.