Retail workplaces are not associated with risks like other industries, but this does not mean workplace health and safety should be compromised.
Regardless of whether business is slow or fast-paced, staff members still have responsibilities that require them to face potential hazards and risks daily. Exploring how to best establish and maintain safety procedures, adequately train staff and evaluate workplace health and safety procedures will increase the likelihood of integrating quality Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) into your organisation’s culture and day-to-day operations.
Given the reality of working in a retail environment, workplace health and safety procedures are unfortunately viewed as more of a compliance issues than a preventative measure to real danger. This can lead retailers to pay less attention to their workplace health and safety responsibilities, resulting in undesirable outcomes for not only employees but the business itself.
Equipment and hazardous goods pose constant risks to the workplace. Equipment such as cleaning chemicals, visual merchandising props, electrical equipment and combustibles all pose risks to the workplace. Procedures that utilise control guidelines such as materials safety data sheets (MSDS), adequate staff training, and personal protective equipment are effective in maximising employee health and safety.
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Manual handling is a component of several retail jobs and involves tasks that range from anything from carry heavy stock to operating a register at the checkout. As manual handling is also often a major contributor to workplace injuries, retailers should look to address manual handling risks and focus on reducing the level of risk through re-designing work processes.
Listed below are some common examples to prevent injuries:
- Organise storage so that high turnover stock is stored at waist height
- Limit the height of shelves to shoulder height
- Store large items (e.g. wheelchairs) at ground level
- Use drawers to eliminate bending and reaching
- Use height adjustable trolleys and loading items
Nearly a quarter of workplace injuries are due to staff either slipping on wet floor surfaces, tripping on low obstacles, or falling as a result dangerous hazard. The most common injuries are cuts and bruises but can easily be more severe if workplace standards are not addressed. Compiling a checklist of safety measures to look out for will make sure your retail workplace is hazard-free. It is recommended retailers pay close attention to floor conditions, lighting and general housekeeping.
An essential part of developing workplace health and safety policies is establishing effective emergency procedures. Emergencies can be difficult to envisage; as such, consulting expert guidance and training staff in executing desired protocols will ensure an efficient response to emergencies is achieved.
Emergency training for staff is of utmost priority. This training may include evacuation drills, identifying assembly points, and familiarising staff with emergency and first aid equipment. Retailers must also be prepared to review and revise their emergency plans to reflect any changes to the workplaces such as change of premises or increase in staff numbers.
A valuable resource for retailers is the Safe Work Australia Emergency Plans Fact Sheet.This fact sheet stresses that emergency procedures are clear, straightforward and store specific.
Integrating workplace health and safety into organisational culture benefits everyone. Safe work procedures ensures business runs efficiently and enables staff to feel secure in the range of tasks they are required to complete.
About ARA Retail Institute
ARA Retail Institute is Australia’s leading retail training provider for both accredited and non-accredited learning programs. For more information, please visit: www.retailinstitute.org.au