Retail Safety Tips
Approximately 3 million hard-working Texans make their living in the retail industry. Some are young people new to the workforce. Some are seasoned retail professionals, and still others are temporary workers providing seasonal help. All have the right to a safe, healthful workplace.
Hazard: Workplace Violence
Workplace violence is a pervasive problem across industries. Retail employees are especially vulnerable because they exchange money with the public, work during off hours, and often work alone or in small groups.
Control: Promote Awareness
Workplace violence prevention starts with awareness. Take note of customers who linger without buying, leave and come back or go to a part of the store where it is difficult to see them. If someone looks suspicious, make friendly eye contact with them. Experts say robbers are less likely to harm someone they’ve established a personal connection with. Most importantly, don’t be a hero, and don’t chase the robber. Your life is more important than any merchandise or money.
Hazard: Large Crowds
In 2008, an overly zealous crowd of holiday shoppers trampled a retail worker to death. The incident underscored the importance of developing a plan to manage large crowds during the holidays and other sales events.
Control: Develop a Crowd Control Plan
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers guidelines to help employers manage large crowds during sales events. OSHA’s recommendations include posting security guards or police officers on site, setting up barricades that prevent customers from lining up at the store’s entrance, developing emergency procedures and communicating those procedures to employees.
Your business depends on having the items customers want, when they want them. Unloading, stocking and organizing merchandise puts employees at risk of strain injuries.
Control: Use Safe Lifting Techniques
Safe lifting techniques include lifting with your legs instead of your back and pivoting with your feet instead of twisting with your body when you need to turn. If a load is too heavy, break it into smaller loads, ask a co-worker to help or use dollies, carts and other lift aids. If you use a lift aid such as a forklift, make sure backup alarms, horns and other safety features work, and be aware of pedestrians.
Hazard: Slips, Trips, Falls
Slips, trips and falls are the second-leading cause of workplace accidents, behind only motor vehicle accidents. Poor housekeeping, wet floors and improper use of ladders can result in serious slips, trips and falls.
Control: Practice Good Housekeeping
A clean, orderly workplace promotes productivity and reduces the risk of slips, trips and falls. Keep walkways, stairs and exits clear of merchandise, supplies and cleaning products. Clean up spills as soon as possible, and use “Caution: Wet Floor” signs in the meantime. In wet weather, use slip-resistant floor mats to keep people’s feet on solid ground.
Control: Use Ladders Correctly
Ladders are everyday tools that can cause serious injuries when not used properly. Employees should learn how to select the right ladder for the job, inspect the ladder, set it up properly and maintain three-point contact.
Everyone has the right to a safe, healthful workplace.