Contributed by Tom Brialey
As a fundamental contributor to the UK’s economy, there are over 3 million people employed in the retail industry. Due to the size and diversity of this sector, it’s essential that employers are aware of the health and safety requirements that should always be adhered to in this space.
That’s why, in this article, we’re sharing a number of considerations to take into account when it comes to optimising safety in retail environments to ensure that your staff are fully protected. From improved store layouts to efficient stockroom designs and routine risk assessments, with our guide, you’ll be well on your way to creating a safety-focused environment for all retail staff.
Stocking goods safely
In all retail environments, there must be some form of stockroom to house products and company materials. With ever-increasing customer demand for seamless access to product stock, warehouses and small retail environments alike should prioritise safety to adhere to best practices and prevent back of house accidents.
To strengthen their skills and develop their know-how, appropriate training should be given to both seasonal temp workers and permanent staff. From achieving great housekeeping standards to understanding how to wear personal protective equipment, the more knowledge your staff possess on safety-focused company processes, the safer they will be.
Storage spaces should include areas designated for products, walkway aisles and emergency escape routes, and plans should be effectively communicated to all members of staff and clearly marked out in case of emergency. Any further hazards, such as electrical cables, should be well covered to ensure walkways are unobstructed and well-lit, with warning lights if required.
To eliminate any temptation to store items in walkways, your warehouse shelving systems should be stable, sturdy and ample in terms of providing both horizontal and vertical storage space. If everything has a designated space to be stored, it will be less tempting to over-stack items where they could be at risk of falling over.
On a similar note, being aware of how much shelving space you have available is essential to avoiding overstocking, which can also result in items being misplaced. Slips and trips are one of the most common causes of injury in the workplace – with approximately 11,000 workers involved in a serious trip every year – so it’s essential that, as an employer, you’re doing all you can to prevent these sorts of accidents.
Optimize store layouts
Although it’s tempting to put as much stock at the front of house as possible to encourage sales, making sure that goods don’t create hazards should always be your first priority. Shelves shouldn’t be overstocked, and walkways should always remain clear for the safety of staff. If your store is likely to gain a heavy amount of foot traffic, when it comes to safety, your store layout should remain at the forefront of your mind.
Conduct regular visual inspections of the premises to ensure there are no hazards present, and catch any existing dangers early. From uneven flooring to spills or misplaced boxes, knowing where to look for these hazards and spotting them in good time is the best way to keep your premises safe. In the event that danger isn’t spotted quickly, making sure there’s a first-aid trained employee on every shift is an efficient way to plan for a fast response – no matter what situations may arise.
Storing staff belongings
When employees come into work, they should have a designated, secure space for them to store away their personal belongings such as their bags, coats and any uniform which they require for their shift. Whether that’s a high-quality locker or storage drawers, keeping belongings out of walkways and preventing hazards on traffic routes is essential when optimising staff safety in public retail environments.
Not only are these storage solutions effective for hiding belongings away safely, they’re also an efficient way to minimise any cases of theft. While employees are working their shift, it’s important that they’re not concerned about their belongings so they can work in peace of mind, knowing that their items will be exactly where they left them at the start of their day.
Regulate risk assessments
Managing risks correctly and efficiently is essential to minimising accidents in retail environments. After all, the more frequently you undertake visual inspections and risk assessments, the safer your staff will be. While many managers may worry about how long risk assessments may take, there are now many online resources that allow those in small retail spaces to complete their risk assessments with ease – meaning you can protect your staff as efficiently as possible.
As an employer, you must make a suitable assessment of your employees’ involvement in any accidents and any associated health and safety hazards. It’s essential that you record any significant findings, including who was harmed and any measures implemented to control those risks. This will help in the review process, and will make it easier to identify any changes in equipment or procedures that may be needed to maintain healthy working conditions.
On that note, any new changes in equipment, substances, procedures or staff could lead to new risks – making it essential for your risk assessment to be reviewed and updated regularly. An efficient way to ensure that processes are always completed on time is to train senior members of staff to undertake such assessments, meaning essential admin will never be forgotten about in the event of sick days or holidays. Put simply, the more staff who are aware of risks and how to prevent them, the less likely accidents are to occur.
Contributed by Tom Brialey, the Founder and Director of Action Lockers, which adopts his philosophy that, in addition to the highest quality products, you must also provide the highest standard of service to your customers in order to succeed. That’s why it’s Tom’s mission to provide expert support 100% of the way.
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