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Workers at risk of injury as shoppers hit the stores on Black Friday

It's that time of the year again that workers dread and consumers love: Black Friday. Thanksgiving Day is spent with family and friends eating and relaxing. For consumers and retailers, the day after Thanksgiving is also a holiday of sorts.

But for employees who have to deal with the massive crowds and crazy shoppers, Black Friday is a daunting shopping day that could leave them with a work-related injury and exhaustion. With thousands of people rushing through stores, serious injuries and even death are possibilities. Are there ways for stores to reduce the risk of workplace injuries this year?

Nearly three years ago, a worker was killed during a Black Friday stampede. Ever since then there has been heightened concern surrounding employee safety. Shoppers have been known to push, shove and fight over popular products.

This year, there is more concern because many stores are opening much earlier than in previous years. But OSHA has provided employers with some ways to manage crowds and keep stores safe for workers. Some suggestions include:

  • Properly training workers to deal with the crowds - throngs of people are inevitable and making sure employees are equipped to handle them can make a big difference
  • Preparing and practicing emergency exit plans
  • Clearly indicate where crowds can and cannot go by using rope lines and other barriers
  • Provide lines of communication for employees both outside and inside the store
  • Make sure there is adequate security throughout the store

Taking these and other suggestions and putting them into practice can help workers avoid injuries this upcoming weekend.

To learn more about how employers can protect workers during Black Friday sales events, visit OSHA's website here.

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