How to improve safety in your retail store

If you work in or own a retail store, you will know all about how chaotic busy periods can get, whether it’s holiday weekends or a big sale.

People are rushing around with their shopping and it can feel like there isn’t enough time or hands to keep everything neat and tidy in store. When customers are packed tightly into the store, safety can take a backseat, but it is vital to maintain safety over speed, always keep the floor clear. 

As well as sensible choices like covering up electrical points with an ip rated junction box, keeping cables out the way, and clearly signing fire exits, there are some simple things that often get overlooked that can make your store safer for staff and customers. These safety tips could come very handy in your retail store. 

Think Ahead

Make sure that your employees know to keep looking out for any potential hazards around the shop floor. The floor should be kept as neat and tidy as they possibly can, no matter how busy the shop is. Things like boxes, merchandise, and ladders can easily become major trip hazards. Everything needs to be put away in the proper place, and never left in the middle of the floor, even if a delivery has arrived in the middle of the day. Make sure you provide a space for your employees to safely store their personal belongings out of the way too, so nobody is falling over handbags or jackets in the back of the store. Anticipating potential hazards is one of the best ways to prevent accidents. 

Never Block Fire Extinguishers or Sprinklers

You don’t want to have to climb over half unpacked deliveries or stock to reach the fire extinguisher if you need it in an emergency, and the sprinklers can’t do their job if things are in the way. Never block these. 

Don’t Barricade Yourself In

Emergency exits must be kept clear so that everyone gets out quickly and safely if they need to. If you have to evacuate the store for any reason, it will be much easier to do if people don’t have to negotiate an obstacle course to get out. 

Use Wet Floor Signs

Those bright yellow signs might not look nice, but they can stop people from falling on a wet floor. Whether you’ve cleaned or a rainy day has made the store entrance slippery, use the wet floor signs. You don’t want any of your customers or staff to get hurt, or be able to sue you if they do. 

Be Smart With Ladders

Train your employees on how to safely use a ladder. It might seem obvious, but in fact, there is a right and a wrong way to climb. Some ladder safety tips are:

  • Never use a ladder that’s broken or damaged
  • Make sure the ladder is the right height. It should rest three feet above the area that you are working on. 
  • Place the ladder on a flat, stable surface. For every three feet of height, the end of the ladder should be placed one foot away from the wall. 
  • Be aware of the weight limits of the ladder. 
  • Never climb or stand on the top step
  • Face the ladder, not the ground, when climbing down
  • Never leave a ladder unattended

Emphasize Lifting Safety

Back injuries can happen very easily when you are moving heavy boxes or loads around the store. Help your staff to avoid straining their backs, and you from being hit with a worker’s compensation claim, you can include a few lifting tips as part of your training for new team members. 

  • Make sure the way is clear and there are no trip hazards
  • Hold the load close to your body at your normal centre of gravity
  • Plant your feet shoulder-width apart, with one foot alongside the load, and the other behind it
  • Bend at the knees, not at the waist
  • Keep your arms close to your body
  • If you need to turn, move your feet, rather than twisting at the waist
  • Bend your knees and keep your hands and feet out fo the when you are setting the load down
  • Know when a load is too heavy or awkward for you and ask for help

Retail stores need to be kept tidy. Walkways must be clear and tidying up should be ongoing work throughout the whole day. It can be tempting to skip some of the safety steps when it means getting a task done faster, and it might seem as though there’s no time to put away that empty packaging. Stores can get really busy, but rushing can make things work. Be proactive and prevent injuries by anticipating possible dangers.