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OSHA encourages safety for the holiday shopping season

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a list of safety guidelines for retail stores in Pennsylvania and nationwide in preparation for the shopping season. The assistant secretary of labor for the organization stated that the holiday season should not be a reason for workers to be at risk of injuries and a crowd management plan could reduce the chance of injuries occurring.

Five years ago, a worker was injured on the job and killed when a large chain store opened and shoppers rushed in for its Black Friday sales. OSHA recommends that stores' crowd management plans should include barricades and lines away from the building entrances in order to prevent such a tragedy from occurring again. It is also recommended that trained security personnel be kept on site and that police officers be called in for major shopping events.

In addition to the risk of large crowds, individuals can be injured in the case of a fire emergency if it is difficult to reach an exit. The OSHA guidelines address this with a recommendation to neither block nor lock the exit doors as well as preventing customers from entering the building once its maximum occupancy level has been reached.

While the OSHA guidelines may have addressed some major concerns, stores were invited to implement their own safety measures in order to protect both their workers and their customers, as long as these measures are put into place before the crowds come. If a retail worker is injured while he or she is on the job, that person may receive benefits proportional to normal wages until permitted by a doctor to return to full working hours. If the employer's insurance company denies benefits, the worker could submit a claim in pursuit of an adequate award.

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

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