Tomorrow is the most memorable Thursday of the year, it is the day everyone eats good food and reflects on what they are thankful for. In the past a majority of families would enjoy their evening then go to bed full, happy and ready to wake up at the crack of dawn for Black Friday. This year Black Friday is actually starting on Thanksgiving Day and the deals will last through the weekend. A survey done by the National Retail Federation showed that around 97 million people plan to take part in this year’s shopping madness. By now most retailers have hired, screened and staffed their stores to accommodate the large crowds that will be storming their doors. However, the question remains, how do you control thousands of customers who brought spending money but left their manners at home?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has the answer.  After a man died several years ago during a Black Friday stampede in Wal-Mart, OSHA decided something needed to be done. They have released guidelines for managing crowds safely from before the doors open to when they close.

The list contains over 20 recommendations; here are some of the highlights for you to keep in mind while you prepare.

  • Have security trained in crowd management on site.
  • Create a plan: Over-estimate the number of people you will have and strategically place each staff member (including security) before the doors open. They also remind you not to place staff in the middle of an aisle all personnel should be off to the side.
  • Contact your local fire department to ensure your store meets public safety requirements.
  • Have someone on staff to contact emergency personnel, if or when it’s needed.
  • Make sure all store signs containing important information are displayed properly and visibly; i.e. entrance, exit, store hours, etc.
  • Have an emergency plan for when things get out of hand.
  • Have an entrance system: use barricades to create a clear line; if using special deals like first to arrive, use tickets or wrist bands; make sure personnel is available to explain these things to the crowd and stay in communication with them provide all staff with radios.
  • Scatter sale items, so no part of the store remains crowded for an extended period of time.
  • Have a separate entrance for the disabled.
  • Make sure you are properly equipped with first aid items and staff is trained in CPR and AEDs.

We hope you have found this information to be helpful and would like to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and a very safe Black Friday.

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