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The Retail Sector –How to Avoid Danger at the Workplace

27 September 2017
 September 27, 2017

Figures released from the Office for National Statistics Crime Survey 2016/17 revealed some alarming figures regarding the retail sector within the UK. According to the findings, in 2016, the retail sector experienced the highest level of crime, an estimated 5.2 million incidents within the year.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) statistics show that one shop worker is attacked or threatened every minute of the shopping day in the UK. Alongside verbal threats and violence that retail workers face, the survey revealed that in 2016/17 customer theft remained the most common type of crime, accounting for 75% of crime by incidents and 66% of the direct cost of retail crime (£438m).

Retail is considered a significantly large industry sector in the United Kingdom. Thus, there are many occupations that fall within this field. The retail industry employs around 3 million people across 300,000 outlets in the UK. At times retail workers can find themselves working alone during late hours. Although people may not instantly associate retail jobs with danger, quite often these workers hold responsibilities that can make them more vulnerable to potential risks. These include; opening and closing the store at night, dealing with customer complaints, exposure to potentially hostile public, carrying high value goods and handling cash.

As previously stated, incidents involving retail staff happen every day all around us. However, one recent incident in particular emphasises the reality of the vulnerability of retail workers. This time last year, a shopkeeper in Nottingham was attacked at night whilst trying to protect his store from being shoplifted. The criminal was armed with a screwdriver and his face was covered to hide his identity. The attacker was eventually found and jailed, however, the shopkeeper was left with lasting physical injuries after being stabbed multiple times. This poses the question as to whether retail workers are safe when performing their daily tasks? What protection, if any, is put into place to protect their wellbeing?

It is evident that the retail industry staff within the UK face major safety risks. Therefore, it is important that retail workers know how to minimise these risks so that they can feel safer whist working.


What can be done to minimise these risks for retail staff?

  • Increase store security – It may sound obvious but if you are working in a store, ensuring that it is installed with security systems is very important. This can include fitting various types of equipment such as security cameras, motion lights and fire/burglar alarms. Although these methods may not be a complete barrier, they can certainty act as a deterrent to people committing crimes.


  • Be careful with cash – Ensure cash tills are not placed so they are easily accessible to customers. Try to have a system in place where cash is moved to a secure place to avoid large amounts building up.


  • Double up- Ensure the higher risk tasks are carried out by more than one member of staff. For example try to ensure that locking up at night is not left to one individual. This can also include tasks as simple as taking the bins out in the dark.


  • Trust your instincts – If you think someone is acting suspicious, don’t ignore it. You cannot falsely accuse someone but there is no harm in keeping an eye on them. If someone is acting suspicious let a senior member of staff know who can then inform security. If you are working for a smaller business and do not have security on hand, ensure you have access to a phone in a discreet but accessible place ready to call emergency help if needed.


  • Adopt a lone worker safety service. – Adopting a lone worker protection scheme within your organisation is arguably the most effective way to protect workers. Skyguard’s personal safety service operates on a 24 hour basis and the keyfob-sized alarms such as the MySOS are designed to be carried by the individual at all times. As they are not limited to the till point like everyday panic alarms, the devices provide a convenient method of calling for help in any emergency situation. Calling for help via a device like this can often be more discreet and significantly quicker than dialing 999 on your mobile phone. With simply just a click of the SOS button an alarm will be activated and sent directly to Skyguard’s own Incident Management Centre. Here, Controllers will be able to listen in and if needed, send help to your exact location through GPS tracking.


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