Sometimes it takes a real tragedy for there to be changes to improve workplace safety and prevent a future personal injury, or even death. And this year -- three years after tragedy struck at a Walmart store -- retailers around the country are making sure to take extra precautions when it comes to employee and customer safety on Black Friday and throughout the holiday season.
After the 2008 fatal workplace accident, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration started to take a hard look at what could be done to prevent future injuries and deaths at retail locations during door buster Black Friday sales where crowds may gather.
Even just last year OSHA released its "Crowd Management Safety Tips for Retailers," where it suggests that stores only allow up to maximum capacity, exit doors are left unblocked and unlocked and that there is trained security on hand. Barricades are also recommended for shoppers.
For Wal-Mart Stores Inc., since the accident, officials have worked with experts to create a crowd-management plan for all of the retailer's locations. And while the plans slightly differ from store-to-store, the basis is the same: to keep shoppers and employees safe. Specifically, this year there will be store officials watching customer flow near the entry of the store, around merchandise, near the checkout isles and away from the actual building.
Other large retailers around the country also have similar plans in place, with some going as far as to post maps so customers know where the checkout isles are, and buffer zones between where customers line up before the doors open and the entrance to the actual store.
What this means for the average shopper is that it may be normal to notice more employees out on the floor, and more of a general sense of order throughout retail locations during the holiday season.