Avoid disaster: Tips to improve safety at your retail store

If you work at a retail store, you’re all-too-familiar with the chaos that is the holidays, Memorial Day Weekend, or pretty much any time there’s a big sale. People rush around to do their shopping and it feels like there isn’t enough time—or hands—to worry about keeping everything neat and tidy. When there are customers packed into the store, safety might take a backseat. However, it’s vital to enforce safety over speed and to always keep the floor clear.

There are a few things you can include in your training to make sure that your retail store stays safe both for your customers and your employees. The following are some safety tips that could come in handy around your store.

Tip #1. Think ahead.

Make sure your employees know to always scan for potential hazards. The floor should be kept as neat and tidy as possible. Boxes, merchandise, and ladders can quickly become trip traps. Everything should be put away in its proper place, not left in the middle of the floor, and you should provide a space for employees to keep their belongings out of the way. Anticipating potential hazards is one of the best defenses against accidents.

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Tip #2. Don’t block fire extinguishers or sprinklers.

Fire is bad. You don’t want to have to climb over a mountain of merchandise or boxes to get to the extinguisher if you need it, and the sprinklers can’t do their job if there are things in the way.

Tip #3. Don’t accidentally barricade yourself in.

Emergency exits have to be kept clear so that everyone can make a quick getaway if necessary. If you have to evacuate the store, it’ll be much less chaotic if people aren’t trying to crawl over an obstacle course.  

Tip #4. Use wet floor signs.

While bright yellow sandwich signs might not be aesthetically pleasing, they’ll keep people from slipping on a slick floor. For everyone’s sake, use the wet floor signs. You don’t want any of your customers or employees to get hurt, and you’ll spare yourself a lawsuit.

Tip #5. Be ladder-smart.

Your employees should all be trained in how to use a ladder properly. It seems self-explanatory, but 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 the employee is working on.
  • Place the ladder on a flat, stable surface at a 75° angle. For every three feet of height, the end of the ladder should be placed one foot back on the ground.
  • Be mindful of weight limits on the ladder.
  • Don’t climb or stand on the top step.
  • Face the ladder, not the ground, when coming down.
  • Don’t leave a ladder unattended, especially if it’s propped up.

Tip #6. Emphasize lifting safety.

Back injuries can happen all too easily when it comes to transporting heavy boxes or loads. To help your employees avoid straining their backs (and the ensuing workers’ comp claim), you can include the following tips in your training:

  • Make sure the way is clear and there’s nothing that can trip you.
  • Hold the load close to your body at your normal center of gravity.
  • Plant feet one shoulder-width apart, with one foot alongside the load and the other behind the load.
  • Bend at the knees, not the waist.
  • Keep your arms close to your body.
  • If you have to turn, move your feet instead of twisting at the waist.
  • Bend your knees and keep hands and feet clear when setting the load down.
  • Know when a load is too heavy or awkward for one person. Team lift when necessary.

Working retail requires keeping the store neat. Walkways should be clear, and tidying up should be a constant project throughout the day. Yes, it’s tempting to skip the safety steps when it means getting a job done faster, and it might seem like there’s not enough time to go push that box to the side. We get it—stores can get crazy busy. But haste makes waste. Be proactive and prevent injuries by anticipating possible obstacles or dangers.

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If you’re wondering what kind of insurance you need to protect you from all of your risks, give us a shout. From making sure your inventory is insured to your premises itself, we can help. We really love insurance, and since free things are nice, we’ll even get you a free insurance quote.