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Many of us are excited for the upcoming holiday season, some more than others are ready to hit the ground running, full speed, for Black Friday. The weekend after Thanksgiving is known as the busiest shopping days of the year. Some stores offer insanely priced loss leaders to get shoppers in the doors, but this can this be dangerous.

Sometimes overzealous shoppers doing their best to land a limited offer deal can get them and others injured in the process. In 2008 a Walmart located in Long Island had crowds that caused a cave in of their front doors and sadly a security guard lost his life in the ensuing “stampede” of shoppers. Walmart was taken to court and settled for $2 million and an additional $7000 fine.

OSHA Guidelines

OSHA recommends that employers planning a large shopping event adopt a plan that includes the following elements.


  • Where large crowds are expected, hire additional staff as needed and have trained security or crowd management personnel or police officers on site.
  • Create a detailed staffing plan that designates a location for each worker. Based on the size of the crowd expected, determine the number of workers that are needed in various locations to ensure the safety of the event (e.g., near the entrances and throughout the store).
  • Ensure that workers are properly trained to manage the event.
  • Contact local fire and police agencies to determine if the event site meets all public safety requirements, and ensure that all permits and licenses are obtained and that local emergency services, including the local police, fire department and hospital, are aware of the event.
  • Designate a worker to contact local emergency responders if necessary.
  • Designate a store manager to make key decisions as needed during the event.
  • Provide legible and visible signs that describe entrance and exit locations, store opening times, and other important information such as the location of major sale items and restrooms.
  • Prepare an emergency plan that addresses potential dangers facing workers, including overcrowding, crowd crushing, being struck by the crowd, violent acts and fire. Share emergency plan with all local public safety agencies.
  • Train workers in crowd management procedures and the emergency plan. Provide them with an opportunity to practice the special event plan. Include local public safety agencies if appropriate.

Pre-Event Setup:

  • Set up barricades or rope lines for crowd management well in advance of customers arriving at the store.
  • Make sure that barricades are set up so that the customers’ line does not start right at the entrance to the store. This will allow for orderly crowd management entry and make it possible to divide crowds into small groups for the purpose of controlling entrance.
  • Ensure that barricade lines have an adequate number of breaks and turns at regular intervals to reduce the risk of customers pushing from the rear and possibly crushing others, including workers.
  • Designate workers to explain approach and entrance procedures to the arriving public, and direct them to lines or entrances.

To read complete OSHA Fact Sheet Click Here

In addition to crowd control, retailers must also take in to consideration weather causing slippery floors and distracted shoppers busy on their cell phones.

If the retailer follows the OSHA guidelines, places commercial mats at the doorways they still have to deal with customer to customer issues if a fight breaks out among shoppers. The store may or may not be liable for the fight,  but they need to be prepared and have emergency options in place.

The Bottom Line

When a store invites you into their establishment they have an obligation to ensure your safety while on the premises, under what is called business invitee CT law. If you happen to be involved in an accident:

  • Report accident/injury immediately to store staff
  • Take pictures of the area that caused your injury;
  • Get the names and contact information of witnesses;
  • Seek proper medical attention for your injuries;

Only an experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to review your case and evaluate whether you may be entitled to compensation for an injury. If you were injured at a store (or another location), contact Tindall Law Firm. We have a nearly 24 year track record of great success and experience handling these premises liability cases.  For a free consultation with a Waterbury personal injury attorney, please call 203.755.0018 or contact us online. All cases are taken on a contingency fee basis. If we accept your case, you pay no fee unless we recover damages for you.