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Labor officials warn retailers of holiday shopping dangers

The Department of Labor has issued a warning to retailers this shopping season, asking that special precautions be taken this year to insure worker safety during the holidays. With Black Friday coming up next week, stores offering discounts are gearing up to please customers, but it is important to remember to maintain the wellbeing of employees even during the busy season.

If the issue seems silly, remember that large and aggressive crowds of shoppers can do a lot of damage if too many people are moving in one direction too quickly or if there is an emergency situation that causes shoppers to panic. Almost five years ago a worker in a retail store was trampled to death by a crowd of shoppers rushing through the door of a store to be the first in line for discounted items.

Even the minor risk of being injured on account of the holiday shopping season concerning. This is why retailers have an additional duty as employers to keep their properties safe for workers who are braving the holiday rush.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration also made on statement on this issue, urging retailers to create a crowd management plan to avoid preventable harm to employees. Effective crowd management includes having security personnel on site, setting up organized barricades or rope lines that keep waiting shoppers away from the store’s immediate entrance. It is also important to have an emergency plan in place in case something does go wrong so that the damage can be minimized.

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

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