US Virgin Islands Hotel & Tourism Association

crowdWith the holiday season approaching, OSHA wants employers to remain aware that crowd-related injuries can occur during special sales and promotional events. Crowd management planning should begin in advance of events that are likely to draw large crowds. Emergency situation management should always be part of the event planning process.

In the early stages of event planning, employers need to consider the potential hazards presented by customers such as crushing incidents between people/structures, trampling and aggressive or dangerous behavior. Also, hazards present at the location may include failure of equipment (such as automatic doors), fences or other barriers that may collapse if individuals are pushed into it, inadequately lit areas and/or housekeeping hazards. Employers should provide employee training on how to properly manage a planned event and on the procedures outlined in the company emergency action plan. Ensure that legible and visible signs that describe entrance and exit locations, store opening times and other important information are posted. In addition, employers should hire additional, seasonal staff as needed based off of the previous years’ experiences.

Immediately prior to the opening, ensure that customer lines do not start right at the entrance to your business. This will allow for orderly crowd management entry and make it possible to divide crowds into small groups for the purpose of controlling entrance. For larger sites, provide radios or some other form of communication for store personnel to communicate. Prevent overcrowding by, for example, locating sale items in different parts of the store. If possible, provide a separate exit for staff with door monitors posted to prevent customer entry. In addition, make sure all paths of egress are unblocked and that exit doors remain unlocked and accessible.

During the event, OSHA encourages employers to have their security or crowd managers at the side of the entering/exiting public, not at the center of the path. Do not allow customers beyond the maximum occupancy permitted at your location. Continue to assess the event, making the necessary adjustments to ensure employee safety and health.

In addition to the available OSHA tools and/or guidance on this topic, UVICELL Safety in Paradise provides free services to businesses requiring further assistance. For free consultation services, policy development and training, please contact the UVICELL Safety in Paradise office via email at