Five Top Safety Tips Retailers Must Take on Board Before Launching

Health and Safety can be a murky place. With lots of rules and regulations to follow, it can be hard to know whether you are on top of them all. This is made especially harder for new businesses with little or no experience in their chosen field. Not only does staff safety have to be considered with how equipment is used, how lone working functions and how general safety is adhered to, but you also have to look at customers and the general building as a whole. This could include how the alarm systems work, what evacuation procedures you may have, what materials are used in construction and how on-site equipment is used. There can be lots to think about! Add in the detailed risk assessments that cater for under 18s, over 18s, pregnant workers, lone workers and more, and it very quickly becomes a minefield of paperwork, compliance and rigorous checks. We haven’t even touched upon fire safety yet either!

So, in this blog, we picked five key safety considerations any new retailers should consider. Some may appear common sense, others may not have even crossed your mind, but each will help you launch, confident that your business follows safety rules.

Of course, depending on where you are reading this, there may be very specific rules you must follow, and we must stress that this list is not exhaustive. There are always ways to improve customer safety by refining a few best practices. These though are five things that you should consider when planning your premises and hiring a team.

Suitable lighting

It may be common sense that you will need lighting in place for visitors to find their way around. However, you’ll need to ensure that the lighting you install is just right. Too dull and slip or trip hazards can easily be missed. Too bright and the reflection off other surfaces may compromise accessibility around the building. Sufficient lighting is also a valuable asset for preventing theft as it causes there to be fewer black spots where thieves can operate and put staff at risk.  This doesn’t just extend to lighting to assist customers with shopping and staff with their jobs. You will need compliant emergency lighting in place too.  This will help facilitate a safe evacuation in case of a fire or other such event where power and visibility may be compromised. For emergency lighting compliance, you must abide by regulation BS 5266-1:2016. Your local fire authority can advise on what is required should you need assistance.

Security measures

No matter the product type you sell, a customer-facing environment can put your team at risk. Not just your team though. Members of the public using your facilities could also find themselves falling victim to the foul play of a criminal. To ensure staff and customer safety are at their highest, incorporate CCTV systems, alarms, secure stock holding areas and cash handling procedures that minimise the risk potential. You should also look at lone working and see whether this is a safe operation for the type of business you run. Saving costs may be high on the agenda but those costs could be dramatically higher if your solo team member is seriously injured, or your stock stolen. Consider researching lone worker solutions such as personal alarms and safety apps if you will be having people work by themselves.

Emergency procedure management

Every day in retail, leisure and hospitality can be different and unusual circumstances may present themselves. As a result, you’ll need to ensure the safety of the team and visitors is paramount. This means drilling down into evacuation procedures, first aid, accident reporting, risk assessments and situational awareness. Sometimes, the risks may come from something you wouldn’t have initially thought to be problematic until you carefully look at it. It may be advisable to appoint a third party to help with aspects such as this.

Slip, trip and fall hazards

A shop floor, a leisure venue or a public access space can see high levels of footfall. As a result, accidents and incidents may inevitably happen. To prevent or at least minimise this from happening, there should be a great deal of thought put into the layout of the building as well as the materials used. Walkways, entrances, stairs and stockrooms should be regularly inspected to ensure hazards raised in risk assessments are not prevalent. A daily check prior to opening can help.

The materials used for flooring are especially important and can help increase the degree of safety your business is promoting. Safety flooring for example enhances slip resistance, prevents the spread of harmful bacteria, and provides a durable surface that is not prone to damage as fast as other common floor types.

You should also look at setting in place specific rules around merchandising to ensure your floor is free of hazards. Perhaps appoint out of hours times for stock replenishment. And, if it needs to be completed whilst trading, look at rostering staff to ensure the delivery is always safely monitored and that customers are not able to slip or trip over it.

Substance and equipment management

Your team are your most valuable asset so ensuring they are safe is paramount. Should there be equipment they are required to use, make sure that frequent refresher training is carried out and that any legal certifications are obtained. In addition, look at even the most simplistic features of the premises and see if any equipment used by the team may require modernizing or training in how to use it. This could extend to shelving, tills, or display stands.

In many customer-facing environments, cleaning and keeping high standards are critical. Therefore, appropriate safety training on the use of cleaning products is essential. This includes the storage, use and labelling of them. Your risk assessments should indicate the measures you are required to take but you should always consult the manufacturer’s guidance to make sure your risk assessment matches the directions of use. Failure to do so could lead to injury.

These are just five key safety aspects for any new business to be aware of but there can be many more depending on the type of business you have. Always seek legal guidance for what may be best for your particular business.

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