Like many other industry sectors the retail sector has its own very specific workplace hazards and these themselves can vary considerably depending on the type of goods being sold especially if it is a specialist store, i.e. the risk of explosion in a shop selling fireworks would not be found in a shoe shop and the risk of robbery in a jewellery store is statistically far higher than in a charity shop. The health and safety ‘bottom line’ however remains the same in all shops; to create and maintain a work environment and work processes in which the risks of injury, work-related illness and threats to the employees’ wellbeing are eliminated or adequately controlled.
The amount of work required from employers to achieve this bottom line can be considerable bearing in mind the numerous hazards and situations that might need to be considered for inclusion in a shop’s safety management plan and then if included, risk analysed and controlled. Some of the more generic ones are listed below:
• Lifting and carrying.
• Working at height (replenishing stock)
• The floor cleaning regime (that ensures that the shop floor is clean of slip causing contaminants and clear of objects that could cause trips and falls).
• Managing sharp objects.
• Use and handling of power tools and other electrical equipment.
• Shelf stacking which eliminates or reduces the risk of falling objects.
• Working with motor vehicles (unloading deliveries etc).
• Lone working.
• Hazardous products.
• Workplace noise.
• Crime (shoplifting and robbery)
• Customer aggression/violence towards staff
• Lack of personal protective equipment
If just one high risk goes unidentified and an employee or customer is injured as a result of this negligence, the injured party might well be able to make a personal injury claim. Bringing such a claim might be seen by some, with an accident having occurred and an injury having been suffered akin to bolting of the stable door after the horse has escaped, but it is nevertheless the right of the employee or shopper who has been injured to do so – and who can blame them.
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