A Final Safety Audit Is Critical As Customer Traffic Peaks
The passing of the American Thanksgiving weekend marks the start of the Christmas Holiday season. Every small retailer by now has their holiday product line on display, their marketing plan in place and staff levels adjusted to the anticipated increase in traffic. What’s left?
There’s little point in opening your doors to all that customer traffic if your store poses safety risks to them as well as your employees. Whether you’ve got insurance or not, a lawsuit in our litigious society will quickly put you out of business.
To prevent such a risk, a documented SAFETY AUDIT should definitely be conducted NOW before the onslaught of holiday traffic. Discovering and correcting safety hazards in your store now, may prevent an accident over the next few weeks. Even if an accident does occur involving a customer or employee, your documented safety audit may help in your defense if legal action is taken against your store. After the holidays, it’s wise to conduct your safety audit on a monthly basis to make sure your store remains safe for everyone and the potential for accidents is minimized.
Our site has a Loss Prevention and Safety Audit form that can guide you in detail on what to look for. Accidents in your store statistically occur in these areas of your operation:
- Trip hazards
- Falls from stools and ladders
- Electrical hazards
- Children who swallow and choke small objects
Here are the key areas you must check as part of your audit:
1) Inspect your entrance way, all flooring and fitting room areas of applicable to make sure carpets and hard flooring are in good repair. Trips by employees and customers often occur where carpets roll up, or where floor coverings change from carpet to tile or hardwood. Make sure moldings and other interfaces are properly fastened and check flooring particularly through doorways where high traffic can damage many types of flooring prematurely.
2) Make sure that employees take a few moments with you to understand the risk of stools and ladders. Falls from ladders and stairways are among the top sources of injury in homes and stores can pose a similar risk. Even a fall from a small ladder or stool can be serious. Head injuries while off balance into shelves and fixtures can be serious. Train staff to never leave ladders or stools on the floor if they are not using them. Customers may attempt to use them, or worse yet, a customer’s child pay try to climb them and fall off in the process.
3) Stores have intensive electrical circuits largely as a consequence of their lighting requirements and draw large amounts of power. Make sure that electrical circuits and lights are in good order. Look for overloaded outlets especially at the cash desk and correct these potential hazards. Lastly, make sure that your power panel has at least three feet of clearance from any combustible materials. Limited space often motivates employees to pile overstock or store equipment in front of the power panel. While you’re at it, make sure that sprinklers have at least 18 inches of clearance below them. High displays and shelving in the back room may compromise their effectiveness in the event of a fire.
4) Manage your store like you would your home when it comes to safety hazards for young children. Parents under pressure to complete their Christmas shopping may lose focus and care for their children only for a moment. Boxes of pins near fitting rooms, small objects and even marking devices pose a choke hazard for little children who may play and swallow these items in your store out of boredom or curiosity. Make sure that any cleaning supplies or other hazardous chemicals are always put away on high shelving in the back room and away from the cash desk or sales floor area. Secure hazardous chemicals like you would in your home.
A safety audit, even when touching upon these basic areas can go far in making your store safe for the holidays for both employees and customers alike.
Here are the key points you should consider when evaluating the safety level of your store.
Take Action Today:
1) Conduct a safety audit now, before the onslaught of customer traffic and if you do not have an audit form, document what you inspected, it’s condition and what action you took to correct the issue. Sign and date your notes.
2) Conduct a safety audit on a monthly basis from here on. Keep the risk of potential accidents as minimal as possible.
3) If your retail operation requires safety eyewear for employees under certain circumstances, make it a 100% no negotiation policy. Employees in the hardware and building business for example must wear eye protection when cutting lumber for customers or even something as simple as cutting metal keys.
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