The 4 Best Ways for Retailers to Maintain a Safe and Healthy Workplace
Although working in the United Kingdom is far safer than ever before (with accidents and fatalities in the workplace decreasing year after year), it’s still essential for employers to take the necessary measures to ensure that their workers are operating in a safe and healthy environment.
While workplace safety is an obvious priority for employers in high-risk fields such as forestry, construction, manufacturing, fishing and agriculture, employers in every sector are obligated to take the proper steps to provide a safe environment for their workers. Most notably, retail staff are particularly vulnerable to potential workplace accidents, but what can retail sector bosses do to reduce the risks?
How many accidents do occur in the retail sector in the UK?
There were 123 workplace fatalities in the UK in 2021/2022, with nearly a quarter of these deaths occurring in the construction sector. While the bulk of serious workplace accidents and fatalities may be attributed to more obviously physically dangerous occupations, the number of these has been falling. Interestingly, the retail sector in the USA has seen an increase in the number of workplace accidents in recent years, while 40% of retail workplace accidents reported in the UK were attributed to slips, trips and falls. In 2022, the most likely causes of injury or incident in UK retail involve falls and the manual handling/transportation of stock, either on the shop floor or in the stockroom.
Risk Assessment – The first and most important step to take is conducting a thorough risk assessment, keeping in mind the most common injuries and accidents in retail are related to slips, manual handling and working at height. Employers are legally obliged to assess the potential risk of musculoskeletal problems resulting from heavy lifting and manual handling, while a thorough assessment of the store’s operational layout could expose potential hazards when it comes to slips, trips, and falls. Rising temperatures are also a source of potential danger in the UK retail sector, with discussions underway for the implementation of a maximum working temperature, as seen in countries including Germany, Spain and China.
Reorganisation – You can use the findings of your risk assessment to reorganise your workplace – this could include changing the layout of the store, reducing the height of storage and stockroom access or re-thinking the way that you accept, store and transport delivered stock. For instance, a liquid stock that’s prone to spillage should be stored securely and transported with care. You may also consider investing in small business insurance to provide protection for your employees and avoid future losses.
Staff Training – Your staff must undergo health and safety training before working. Ensure that all your staff are aware of the associated risks and protocols for each task they perform on duty. This is especially important in terms of chemical handling, manual lifting and storing stock. You should print posters or guidelines which can be displayed around the workplace to remind staff of good health and safety practices.
Evaluation – Record any incidents or accidents and liaise with your staff to get new suggestions from the front line. By regularly evaluating your health and safety system, you will be able to expose any weaknesses and reduce risk even further.