An Essential Guide to Ensuring the Health and Safety of Retail Workers

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The retail sector is one of the physically demanding workplaces for individuals. While this industry is a primary source of local employment, retail workers often come across various health and safety risks. The risks might be lower compared to many other sectors, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to fall short on eliminating dangerous conditions and behaviors.

Work-related injuries and illnesses can ruin your business’ reputation in the retail sector. They can also result in higher insurance costs, low employee morale, loss of productivity, and expensive penalties for not complying with the industry’s health and safety standards. To help you protect the health and safety of your retail employees, here are some practices to include in your policies.

1. Educate your retail staff

The first thing you should do is educate your retail workers about how to keep themselves healthy and safe. One of the simplest things to do is to minimize trips and allow customers to shop alone until they need assistance. After all, most shoppers feel uncomfortable having someone following them while they browse around the shop. If any of your staff on duty feels sick, advise them not to go to work until they get better. In case you’re planning to introduce cashless payments, ensure your staff can also share and inform these details to your customers. Furthermore, retail employees should practice personal hygiene, from simply washing their hands to covering their nose and mouth with a tissue when sneezing or coughing.

2. Sanitize and clean more often

In these times, staying sanitized and clean is of utmost importance. If you’re opening your physical store to walk-in customers, ensure that the high-tough and customer-facing surfaces are sanitized and clean routinely. If possible, surfaces like credit card terminals must be cleaned after every customer. You can minimize staff exposure by providing cleaning wipes to shoppers—only if you have the budget for the supplies. This is an effective cleaning protocol if your store uses shopping baskets and carts. For a safer option, you can switch to reusable bags. Encourage customers to bring their own whenever visiting your store. Moreover, employee-only areas must also be regularly cleaned, from workstations to equipment like keyboards and monitors.

3. Review risk assessments

Risk assessments are vital for minimizing health and safety hazards in your retail business. Doing these assessments more frequently helps you further ensure the safety of your staff in the workplace. In performing a risk assessment, take note of the involvement of every employee, from the name of workers who got injured to the implemented measures. In doing so, you can determine what procedures or equipment should be changed to upgrade the safety level of your working conditions. However, keep in mind that even these new adjustments can post risks in your workplace, so ensure to perform a regular risk assessment.

4. Recommend health experts

Many retail businesses these days focus on promoting good mental health among their employees. Aggression and abuse towards employees of retail shops continue to rise around the globe. The impact of such customer actions and behavior can take a toll on your retail staff’s health. While regular check-ins are essential, you can help your staff more by inviting mental health experts. You can organize short seminars or one-on-one interviews for a more private talk. Besides mental wellness, you can extend your support for physical health by introducing alternative treatments like chiropractic. You can also recommend treatment experts for sports injuries or recovery, which is useful if you have active and sporty people working for you. These treatments are helpful if your team is also highly engaged in doing outdoor activities for team building and bonding. Extending your help to their personal endeavors like high-risk activities and sports engagement will show that you genuinely care for their well-being.

5. Invest in lone worker safety

For retail employees who work alone, most employers invest in safety devices that can be used to contact their co-workers during emergencies and risky situations. For instance, a lone worker device is beneficial for protecting your retail employees from shoppers’ verbal or physical abuse. Working alone isn’t always hazardous in the retail sector. However, the risk level will still depend on your staff’s interaction with the customers, the type of position, and the store’s location. To better assess what your lone retail workers need, personally talk to them to get their input. Other steps you can take are providing appropriate staff training, creating a check-in procedure, practicing incident reporting, scheduling high-risk tasks during regular store hours, or just avoiding lone workers.

As an employer, it’s your responsibility to comply with specific requirements that protect the health and safety of your retail employees. You must meet these guidelines from providing safe machinery and equipment to performing risk assessments and ensuring adequate workplace facilities. Don’t take the risks of retail business negligence and start creating a safe retail environment today.

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