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Retailers reminded to keep holiday shoppers, workers safe

Five years ago, a worker at a store died under the feet of rampaging Black Friday shoppers.  It's a death that could have been prevented, according to the U.S. Labor Department. With the anniversary of the event looming in the days ahead, the government agency has issued some words of warning in hopes of making the 2013 holiday shopping season safer for everyone.

The sources of possible premises hazards are many. Parking lots become places where innocent shoppers may be targeted by muggers. Encroaching winter conditions can create icy conditions outside and wet, slippery floors inside. Crowds of shoppers lured to stores by Black Friday shopping deals can create any number of risky situations. Businesses have an obligation to do all they can to maintain safe environments for all.

To learn how retailers around Pittsburgh and elsewhere have been prompted to prepare for a safer holiday read on.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the key is in crowd management, especially on Black Friday. Noting that most operations likely have their own policies already in place, OSHA recently sent letters with the following additional thoughts.

  • All exit routes should be properly maintained and free of impediments
  • Security should be present on site, either in the form of trained private security or police
  • Barricades or other channeling devices should be in place so that waiting shoppers queue safely and don't jam up the store's front entryway.
  • Stores should have emergency procedures in place for broad possible dangers and staff should be trained in implementation.
  • Clear instructions about store access should be well communicated to waiting patrons.
  • Operators should monitor how many people have entered to be sure maximum occupancy limits are maintained.

All these suggestions are focused on the things that store property owners should be doing to avoid liability. Obviously there are also some cautions that store patrons might want to follow, as well; the most important ones perhaps being to exercise common courtesy and common sense.

Source: KCSG.com, "US Labor Department Reminds Retail Stores to take Precautions on Black Friday," Nov. 18, 2013

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