Top tips for avoiding accidents in retail

Ask any retail worker and they will tell you how busy a store can get, especially on weekends, during sale periods and in the run-up to Christmas. With the amount of customers to attend to at busy times, health and safety standards can slip.

While your main priority should be the customer, it is everyone’s responsibility to make sure customers and fellow colleagues are protected on the shop floor by avoiding accidents.

Whether you are a supervisor or part-time sales assistant, follow these tips for staying safe and avoiding an accident in retail.

Manual handling

There is a lot of manual handling and lifting in retail. Whether it’s pushing pallets onto the shop floor, carrying merchandise and store fixtures or unloading deliveries or stacking shelves, manual handling is likely to be a big part of the job. If you are required to handle or lift anything heavy, make sure you follow the guidelines set out in your training. If the item is too heavy, get a colleague to help you or use a piece of lifting equipment to help carry the load.

Educate staff

Employers have a legal responsibility to protect their workers, regardless of what industry they are in. If you work in retail, make sure you have received training on how to safely use tagging guns, ladders (if your role involves working at height), and how to move and lift heavy objects. You should also make sure your employer has general housekeeping rules in place like putting away kick step stools when they are not needed and not leaving display hooks and shelves on the floor.

Slips, trips and falls prevention

Everyone has a personal responsibility to make sure accidents are prevented. Retail workers who spot potential hazards can avoid accidents by keeping to basic housekeeping rules. Keep walkways clear and tidy; make sure boxes and merchandise are put away, and display fixtures aren’t left on the floor for employees and customers to trip over. Fixtures, such as window signs, mannequins and display fixtures should be assembled properly to prevent them from falling over and hurting people.

If you are concerned about a lack of housekeeping rules or inadequate time to allow for tasks to be completed properly, you should join a trade union and raise it with your union representative.

Display warning signs

Customers are known to bring in food and drinks into the shop, which means spillage can occur. Liquid products can also end up being dropped on the floor, and it can also become wet from customers’ footprints if it’s raining outside. If the floor is wet, display a wet floor sign until the area has been cleaned and is dry.

Check fire hazards

Watch out for potential fire hazards in the store, such as loose wires from cash machines and defect lighting, that could spark a flame. Always keep emergency exits clear and don’t block fire extinguishers in case you need to use them.

By putting equipment and fixtures away, keeping walkways clear and not blocking fire hazards, you can play your part in trying to ensure your workplace is safe for you and your customers.


For almost 100 years, Thompsons Solicitors has helped injured people to secure hundreds of millions of pounds in compensation. Our team of personal injury lawyers are experts at running and winning accident at work claims for people who have been injured at work through no fault of their own.