Customer & Worker Safety

As I mentioned in the first installment of this series, loss prevention is a multi-dimensional field and covers known theft as well as inventory control, customer and worker safety, building and property security, fire prevention, and first aid in addition to other related risk management topics.

Although common in manufacturing and warehouse environments, independent retail stores tend to play down the importance of establishing a safety program for their staff.  The purpose of the safety program is to reduce and eliminate lost time due to injury and to avoid increased insurance and litigation costs.

As part of any company’s commitment to excellence, routine reviews of customer and staff safety issues and providing appropriate resources for implementing corrective action when safety issues are other business necessities.

All employees are responsible to report safety concerns and make safety-related suggestions to management whenever they spot a hazardous condition. This is equally important regardless of the locations of the unsafe condition whether it be n the stock room, behind the service counters, or on the sales floor.

Management should conduct a simple safety audit at least twice per year to identify potential hazardous conditions and initiate corrective actions. The sales floor should be checked daily by everyone in the store to make sure there are no potential hazards.

Safety training should become part of the normal company training plan. Safety literature in most cases is readily available at your state government website.  Just search for worker safety or safety information and you will be able to find downloadable PDF files that will support many topics for safety training.  A quick check of our state’s website yielded free literature on the following safety topics:

• Safety Awareness

• Housekeeping

• Emergency Preparedness

• Fire Prevention

• First Aid: Injury

• Material Handling including Fork Lifts (if applicable)

• Evacuation Plans

• Proper Lifting Techniques

Safety literature can be posted on a Safety Bulletin Board and placed near the time clock so that management and employees can review.

GENERAL WORK ENVIRONMENT (Applies to stock room, behind the service counters, or on the sales floor.)

• Are aisles and passageways kept clear?

• Are holes in the floor, sidewalk or other walking surfaces repaired properly, covered or otherwise made safe?

• Are materials or equipment stored in such a way that sharp projectiles will not interfere with the walkway?

• Are spilled materials cleaned up immediately?

• Are all work sites clean, sanitary, and orderly?

• Is combustible scrap, debris and waste stored safely and removed from the worksite promptly?

• Are all toilets and washing facilities clean and sanitary?

• Are all work areas adequately illuminated?


• Are all tools and equipment (both company and employee owned) used by employees at their workplace in good condition?

• Are broken or fractured handles on hammers and similar equipment replaced promptly?

• Are worn or bent wrenches replaced regularly?

• Are employees made aware of the hazards caused by faulty or improperly used hand tools?

• Are liquefied gases stored and shipped valve-end up with valve covers in place?

• Before a regulator is removed, is the valve closed and gas released from the regulator?


TRUCKS & FORKLIFTS (if applicable)

• Are only trained personnel allowed to operate forklifts?

• Does the forklift have a warning horn or other device which can be clearly heard above the normal noise in the areas where operated?

• Are the brakes on the forklift capable of bringing the vehicle to a complete and safe stop when fully loaded?

• Will the forklift’s parking brakes effectively prevent the vehicle from moving when unattended?


• Are all employees required to report as soon as practicable any obvious hazard to life or property observed in connection with electrical equipment or lines?

• Are electrical appliances such as vacuum cleaners, polishers, vending machines, etc., grounded?

• Do extension cords being used have a grounding conductor?

• Are multiple plug adaptors prohibited?

• Are exposed wiring and cords with frayed or deteriorated insulation repaired or replaced promptly?

• Are all disconnecting switches and circuit breakers labeled to indicate their use?


• Are fire extinguishers selected and provided for the types of materials in areas where they are to be used? *Class A Ordinary combustible material fires *Class B Flammable liquid, *Class C Energized electrical equipment fires.

• Are extinguishers free from obstructions or blockage?

• Are all extinguishers serviced, maintained and tagged at intervals not to exceed one year?

• Are all extinguishers fully charged and in their designated places?

• Are “NO SMOKING” signs posted and applicable rules enforced?


• Are managers aware of proper work techniques to improve safety?

• Are jobs monitored to ensure a continued use of proper work practices?

• Are all affected employees informed of job related ergonomic hazards?

• Is the first aid kit stocked with needed items?

Despite how small a company might be, there should be a process to investigate accidents and hazard potential incidents.  Management is responsible to investigate any accident or “near miss” incident. Patterns with common causes should be reviewed and measures taken to correct the situation. Ultimately, management is responsible for a safe working environment regardless of the industry.

This article originally appeared in Surplus Today.