With the festive season just around the corner the hunt for the best deals begins. As a result, "Black Friday", a traditionally America phenomenon, has crossed the Atlantic and is now one of the biggest shopping days of the year in the UK. However in recent years "Black Friday" has been accompanied by reports of chaotic scenes in shops as retailers struggle to cope with the demands of the day (or increasingly the entire weekend).

This year "Black Friday" falls on 29 November 2019. With just over a week to go, we consider some of the additional health and safety risks retailers face and what you could do to reduce those, especially if this is your first year venturing in to the festive mayhem.

Assessing the risks

The first step towards minimising any risk is to identify it. Risk assessments already in place might not be adequate so you may want to think about the specific hazards which might arise as a result of the increased foot fall, for example:

  • As customers race to bag the best bargains the risk of slips, trips and falls increases. Floors can be slippery from rain, ice and mud trailed in by shoppers.
  • Customers may drop or remove items from shelves leaving them in the aisle as potential trip hazards. Staff may be too busy to carry out their usual maintenance tasks.
  • As customer numbers increase, so does the risk of crowd related injury - in particular, the risk to customers with mobility problems, pregnant women or elderly or frail shoppers.
  • There may be risks posed to staff by additional physical demands that may be placed upon them.
  • As excitement runs high, procedures for dealing with disruptive or angry customers might also require to be introduced.

Practical Steps

Once hazards are identified, you may want to ask:

  • Are staffing levels sufficient to deal with the increased demands of the day?
  • Do staff require any additional training in relation to manual handling or dealing with customer altercations?
  • Are displays and shelving suitably secure?
  • Do any day to day procedures need to be revised, for example should floors be checked for slip hazards more regularly? Could additional non-slip mats be utilised? Does cleaning frequency need increased?
  • Can you monitor customer numbers in store to avoid over-crowding or implement a queuing system for entry?
  • Should an accident happen do you have the proper post-accident procedures place? Do you have first aid equipment to hand? Do you have an accident reporting procedure?


Katy Angus