Don’t let the retail rush compromise health and safety
In today’s pressurised retail world, the Christmas rush can put a strain on health and safety. So, in perfect harmony with the ‘12 days of Christmas’, here we present our 12 recommendations to help retailers avoid seasonal health and safety incidents.
Why the extra focus on health and safety at Christmas?
In the UK, 2014’s ‘Black Friday’ saw frenzied bargain hunters rushing into shops. Chaos, crushings and even violent incidents followed. With everyone in retail facing extra stresses, it can be tempting to shortcut safe procedures to save time, or speed through poor decisions that might then lead to accidents or ill health.
(Cue music…) “On the first day of Christmas, my health and safety consultant said to me …”
Reduce the chance of in-store violence
Plan effective training to help your sales associates diffuse the potential for verbal and physical violence. Anticipate any aggressive or impatient consumer behaviour, by carrying out risk assessments and ensuring that employees are aware of your control measures.
Get manual handling in order
Reinforce safe manual handling principles with additional training and on the job supervision.
Prepare well for working at height
Provide and maintain the right equipment for working at height. Monitor behaviours when people are working at height.
Remember your shift workers
Avoid fluctuations in working shift patterns. Fatigue increases the likelihood of accidents and near misses, so ensure that staff get the chance to take a rest.
Remember any vulnerable people
Consider further adjustments for staff such as expectant mothers, if they are taking on extra shifts, standing for longer periods of time, or have busier workloads than usual.
Keep on top of your housekeeping
Monitor your exit routes and walkways to keep them obstruction-free, keep your stockrooms safely organised, and do not overstock.
Slip and trips
Make sure that all the floors, front and back of house, are kept in good condition, and that everyone knows how to react promptly in case of spillages or flooring defects. December is the UK’s wettest month, so customers may bring more moisture than usual into the store from outside.
Vehicle movements in loading bays
Be organised: make sure you have enough resources to manage the area, plan in advance of these busy weeks, and observe a zero tolerance policy with poor driving.
Consider where you place any Christmas attractions. If people are distracted, they are less able to concentrate on using your escalators safely.
New shop fittings and visual merchandising
Make sure there are no rushed installations where corners have been cut and fixtures not secured.
Assess the risk before introducing any additional heat sources such as candles, portable heaters or Christmas trees and lights.
When recruiting agency and other temporary workers, make sure they are given information and training about their health and safety.
For a safe and happy Christmas, ensure that you have these 12 health and safety challenges covered – and that your retail leadership team continues to show its total commitment.
Finally, Christmas bonuses can be linked to more than sales alone: remember not only to hold employees accountable for poor health and safety practice, but to reward good practice!