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Employers need to protect workers during holiday sales

Black Friday is the traditional kickoff to the holiday shopping season, and retailers in Oklahoma and across the country likely had strategies to protect their employees from the big crowds that will be flowing in and out of their stores. To help businesses keep their workers safe, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration offers safety guidelines for large sales events.

Due to the death of a store employee during a 2008 Black Friday sale, OSHA stresses that crowd management strategies should be outlined in advance of all large sales events. Management should ensure that they have enough staff on hand and arrange for security or police officers to control the crowd. Emergency plans for crowd stampedes, violent acts and fires should be prepared in advance. Rope lines and barricades should also be set up ahead of the event. All employees and security should be properly trained in safe crowd control measures.

During the sale, OSHA recommends that staff be provided a separate entrance into the store, which should be guarded by uniformed police or security officers. Police or security officers should also be stationed to the side of all public entrances. In emergency situations, all exit doors should be kept clear for easy evacuation. Employers should also designate specific staff members to contact emergency services and provide them with predetermined emergency phone numbers. First-aid kits, automated external defibrillators and workers trained in CPR should be kept on hand.

A store employee who is injured during a sales event may be eligible to file for workers' compensation benefits, which cover medical bills and some lost wages. An attorney could provide essential guidance as an employee prepares a workers' compensation claim.

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