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Retailer responsibilities on Black Friday

As Thanksgiving approaches, most retailers have already solidified their plans for Black Friday. After all, the day has garnered the moniker because sales on this day alone accounts for a year’s profit for some retailers (hence, the term Black Friday). Besides the plans to put items on sale, retailers are also thinking about safety.

Every year it appears that shoppers (and in some cases store employees) are injured by stampeding crowds trying to get to the best deals. It is because of this, that many retailers receive a letter from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reminding them of their responsibility to create a safe workplace for employees. 

Essentially, employers are reminded of the “Crowd Management Safety Guidelines for Retailers” that has important information about how store owners can take additional steps to keep employers (as well as store patrons) safe during Black Friday. Retailers are recommended to hire additional staff members, security or police officers to deal with additional crowds. They must also take steps to train people properly to deal with greater numbers of shoppers.

Further, retailers should have visible signs directing shoppers to checkout counters and exits, and prepare comprehensive emergency plans to deal with the possibility of injured shoppers. We find these provisions important because if a retailer fails to take these steps and a patron (or employee) is injured, the retailer could be held liable for the injury. This is due to a retailer’s legal duty to take reasonable steps to make sure that people are safe when shopping.

Source: OSHA.gov, “Black Friday CEO letter,” November 8, 2013

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