Today is National Personal Safety Day, an annual event that aims to raise awareness of the simple ways we can all avoid violence and stay safe.
Organised by The Suzy Lamplugh Trust, this year highlights issues relating to personal safety in the workplace, focusing on the retail sector. Released today, a survey conducted by the Trust shows that 66% of the people surveyed had experienced violence or aggression in the workplace and the results highlight a clear need for employers to do more to help their staff feel and be safer.
The Suzy Lamplugh Trust have also produced a code for staying safe in the workplace in a handy pamphlet and poster.
Safety advice for those working in retail
We’ve assembled our top tips for retail workers on how to stay safe:
- Be alert and on the lookout for possible dangers – if you think someone is acting suspiciously, don’t ignore it. Keep an eye on them, but be subtle and prepare to get help from a colleague or security staff if the situation escalates.
- Ensure you know store safety procedures inside out and what to do in an emergency – verbal de-escalation techniques can be useful for dealing with aggressive customers.
- Double up on tasks with greater risk – such as locking up and opening the store, receiving deliveries and taking rubbish out. Ideally these shouldn’t be carried out by a lone worker as staff can be more vulnerable at these times.
- Take care with cash – don’t allow large amounts of money to build up, if you’re handling a high volume of cash this should regularly be moved to a secure location.
- Age-restricted goods – sale of items such as cigarettes and alcohol can be a flashpoint. In these situations be firm but fair and follow your store’s procedures.
- Ensure others know your whereabouts – if you’ll be spending time working alone, perhaps in the store room getting stock for example, make sure your colleagues know where you’ll be in case anything happens.
- Carry a personal safety alarm – these pocket-sized devices allow you to get help discreetly at the press of a button. Monitored devices allow Controllers to listen in for signs of distress and can be used to record evidence if necessary.
- Avoid slips and trips – mop up any spillages promptly, keep the workplace tidy and be vigilant for any obstacles that could become trip hazards.
- Manual handling – follow advice you’ve been given on the correct methods of lifting and carrying. Don’t attempt to lift an object if you cannot do so safely.
Advice for employers
Of course it’s important to remember the role that retail employers have in protecting the well-being of their workers. The cost of failing to protect employees can be extremely damaging to retailers on a number of levels. Not only is there the threat of legal action which could result in a prosecution, but there is also the negative impact on staff morale and the company’s wider reputation leading to possible interruption and loss of business.
Read more here on how retailers must adapt to improve staff safety within the retail sector.
If you’d like more information on National Personal Safety Day, please visit The Suzy Lamplugh Trust.