The holiday shopping season is upon us and there are deals everywhere in the St. Louis area. It can be a fun time, but it can also be dangerous. People want to be first in line for that big deal and edge out the other customers. People will get up and drive to the stores on very little sleep, and drive negligently in hazardous road conditions causing dangerous traffic collisions. A customer may even confront you if you picked up the last item on sale that they wanted. Some people will trample you down or shove you out of the way to get what they want.
Retailers Obligation of Safety
Despite the crowds and all of the excitement that comes this time of year, retailers still have an obligation to maintain a safe shopping experience for their employees and their customers. Managers have a duty to maintain safe parking lots, sidewalks, stairs, and railings that are clear of ice, water, and other obstacles that could cause personal injury. If these precautions are not properly taken, shoppers may have a case for a premises liability lawsuit.
When Christmas Crowds Get Out of Control
Every year we hear about the madness of the holidays. Customers are hurt in stampedes; they are crushed, shoved, stabbed, or even shot by greedy people on a mission to get that certain sale item. Crowds can become almost impossible to control. Most people think that wrongful deaths caused by out-of-control crowds are due to being trampled, as reported by the media. In reality, most crowd deaths are due to “compressive asphyxia” (severely deficient supply of oxygen from being pressed too closely together in a crowd). There has been evidence of bent steel railings after fatal crowd deaths. The bent railings show there had to have been more than 1,000 pounds of force due to people pushing and shoving against one another.
OSHA Safety Guidelines for Retailers
According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1970, employers have a responsibility to provide their workers with a safe workplace to prevent injuries to employees. OSHA encourages retailers to adopt effective safety practices to identify and eliminate safety hazards, including the ones that are caused by large crowds during the holiday shopping season. OSHA has prepared the following guidelines to avoid injuries during the holiday shopping season:
- Planning– hire more staff where you expect to have crowds. Create a detailed plan that has a worker assigned to a certain area of the store. Ensure that workers are properly trained to handle the expected crowds. Provide highly visible signs to help direct crowd traffic. Train your workers in crowd management.
- Pre-Event Setup– Set up barricades or rope lines for crowd control. Make sure the barricades are set up so that the customer line does not start right at the entrance to the store. Make sure workers have radios to communicate if they need help. Spread out sale items in the store to help prevent overcrowding in one place. Before you open, remind the crowd how the entrance to the store will be conducted.
- During the Event– Provide a separate entrance for your staff so they don’t have to fight the crowd to get to work. Hire security to guard entrances. Provide crowd entry and exit management at all entrances. Provide a safe entry for people with disabilities.
If you have been injured due to someone’s negligence, you need to speak to a personal injury attorney right away.