As Black Friday approaches and stores compete with one another to offer the best deals to potential customers, they also end up creating unsafe property conditions where previously none existed. With hundreds of people lining up outside the building, entering at the same time and pushing and shoving to get to the best deal first, the possibility for injuries is very high.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has formulated guidelines that employers can follow in order to reduce injuries during the holiday shopping season. As the retailer is responsible for ensuring the occupants inside their stores are safe, the onus falls on them for taking steps to reduce injuries and fatalities.
Before the event begins, the retailer should take a few steps to ensure everything goes smoothly. For example, it would be beneficial to consult fire and police agencies to ensure the building itself meets all public safety requirements and that all licenses and permits are up to date. Additionally, it is important to know what the maximum occupancy of the premises is, so when the store reaches it during the event, additional customers are not allowed inside the building.
Before the event begins, barricades and rope lines can be established to keep the crowd lined up in an orderly fashion. Providing breaks at intervals and turns ensures that people do not push one another during the rush to enter the store at opening and crush injuries do not result. It also helps staff create smaller groups of people to enter the store at one time. Spreading out sale merchandise around the store prevents people collecting in one area and possibly pushing and shoving one another.
When a retailer does not keep their premises safe from possible or actual hazards, it may be possible to hold them accountable through a premises liability suit. A successful suit could result in compensation that could be used to cover medical expenses arising from the injuries suffered.