Staying Safe When Lone Working in Retail -Top 5 Tips
Staying safe when lone working in retail can be difficult. You don’t want to treat all customers as criminals, and sometimes it is impossible to have a barrier between staff and customers. There are steps however, that can be taken to ensure your staff are safe.
Retail workers are often isolated from their managers and can be isolated from their colleagues too but may be in direct contact with members of the public all day long. This leaves them at risk of assault or robbery.
Let’s have a look at some of the risks associated with retail work and then at our top 5 tips to reduce them.
What Are the Hazards of Lone Working in Retail?
Like any role, Retail Worker carries its own risk profile. The type of risk, and the severity of hazard, all depend on the location and type of outlet. For example, a child’s boutique in South Kensington isn’t going to carry the same risk profile as an all-night petrol station in Lambeth, but the hazards still exist and are still very real.
Let’s have a look at some specific risks:
The very nature of the retail environment makes this a sector that is particularly vulnerable to assault.
Shops and outlets are open to the public, in some cases almost 24/7, and anyone can walk in at any time. Unlike salespeople or social workers, the clients are pretty much anonymous, so the planning that needs to happen to protect lone workers is different than letting your colleagues know who you are meeting.
According to this report, violence against retail workers increased by an enormous 40% in the 2017.
Theft is obviously a large factor in aggression against retail workers, but the people who responded to the survey also reported spitting, verbal assault, physical assault, and even goods being thrown at them.
Illness and Injury
If your shop has long periods of being empty, for example an all-night convenience store, the consequences of illness or injury are greater, as it could be an hour at least before they are found if they are taken ill suddenly.
Top 5 Tips for Retail Lone Worker Safety
There are some steps you can take to improve the safety of your staff.
1) Install security cameras
Security cameras aren’t that expensive these days and can act as a great deterrent for impromptu violence and aggression.
But if something awful should happen, such as a snatching or assault, the security cameras can make it significantly easier to identify the perpetrator. Ensure all entrances and exits are covered and make sure the tapes are in use and switched on!
2) Supply and use lone worker fobs
Lone worker fobs are fantastic at protecting lone workers in retail. They can be worn discreetly or even installed as an app on a smartphone. If the wearer feels threatened, they can push the SOS button and there will be a trained operator listening in at the other end who can assess the situation and get the police to the scene. Because we have Unique Reference Numbers with the police, we will be able to command a level 1, emergency response, which means they will be there faster than if they were requested via 999.
Whats more, they are triggered if the wearer suddenly falls to the floor, meaning they can save someone’s life if they are unexpectedly taken ill.
3) Risk Assess – it’s the Law
Whilst it is not illegal to work alone, it is the law that you must carry out risk assessments specific to lone workers. Employers have a responsibility to those working alone, as with any employee, to ensure they work in a safe environment and that they mitigate the risk of injury or accident to the individuals concerned.
The Health and Safety Executive, (HSE), offer advice and support to employers regarding Risk Assessments in this handy guide, so make sure you do your research, and keep within the law.
4) Be Realistic About the Risks
For example, some tasks may simply be too dangerous or too difficult for staff to work on their own. Don’t expect your employees to be in to a situation if you wouldn’t want to be.
Avoid unnecessary tasks which may present a risk for lone workers, such as putting the rubbish out at night or having to retrieve stock from isolated stockrooms. Lone workers should at the very least always be in well-lit areas and have suitably accessible escape routes.
Is there a specific risk to somebody working alone, such as high value items that may be susceptible to robbery, or changes to the layout because of refurbishments etc. which may make accidents or injury a possibility?
5) Train your staff in Fire, First Aid and Self-Defence
Whilst it is the employer’s responsibility to risk assess and ensure they take every possible action against preventing injury or accident, it is impossible to safeguard against the unexpected.
This is where well trained and well-prepared staff comes in and can be a life saver.
Ensure your employees are well equipped and properly trained to deal with any eventuality.
Make your staff aware of the risks and how to deal with any situation, from fire to first aid and self-defence.
There are lots of private companies who offer courses in lone worker safety.
For particular training such as fire safety, contact the Fire and Rescue Service who will come out for free to regularly check smoke alarms, advise on Fire Prevention and offer advice on any training courses which may be relevant.
Get to know your local brigade, advise them of any change of circumstances in the business or people who are in premises alone.
First Aid is another crucial skill that responsible employers should train their staff in. Courses are readily available and basic first aid can save a life when an incident has occurred.
Similarly, Self Defence is a good skill and can leave employees feeling more confident and empowered to be working alone.
So if you work in retail and you work on your own, or you employ people in retail who are lone working at certain times of the day, then think about the increased risks and how you can alleviate them. If you want further advice or you wish to discuss some of the products and services we offer, you can contact us here and one of our professional staff members will be happy to help you.
After all, employee safety is your responsibility, how would you feel if something happened to one of them and you hadn’t offered the appropriate protection?