Safety a Priority for Retail Sector

WorkSafe Regional Director, Melinda Collinson encouraged the retail sector in a recent news article,  to keep safety top of mind over the busy sales period.

Frenetic work pace and high risk of injuries – that’s Christmas – key things to do to avoid manual injuries.

When everyone is “flat strap” in retail, it’s a manual handling injury that is going to be the biggest safety problem (not just Christmas, and not just retail in fact – it’s the most common injury in all workplaces, all the time).  But Christmas and the pace it creates in retail ramps up injury rates, for all the obvious reasons.

What are the solutions to avoiding having the disaster of one of your staff coping a bad injury now?

Sticking to basics is the essence of it.

You don’t need complications during the “silly season”, and that means it’s not the time to get embroiled in complex solutions. Go for the “big hitter” solutions, here are 4 key ones:

  1. You know that safety problem that’s been nagging you for ages? That one that you know staff have been complaining about for just as long? Fix it now. With crushing regularity, it’s the obvious dangerous stuff that consistently causes the bad injuries.
  2. With solution #1 out the way, the other big tip is, don’t guess. The people dealing with manual handling dangers all the time, your staff, will have good solutions. Listen to them. Call a quick meeting. Cut to the chase; make it clear you want to hear about the things that have them straining, lifting stuff in awkward spots and struggling to get access to stock. Then ask for their ideas on solutions.  You’re likely to be surprised at how practical a good number of those solutions will be.
  3. Actively manage.  If you think quickly buying the replacement for the old ladder or having a safety meeting at a busy time is all you have to do to stop injuries you’ll be making a bad mistake.  You have to be consistent and fair dinkum. Make sure everyone knows you are “switched on” to the things that cause injuries: bad lifting technique, reaching awkwardly, twisting when lifting a load, pathways cluttered that can cause a trip.  Do “walk-arounds” looking for this stuff yourself, or get your managers to do it. And encourage staff to look out for one another as well; when staff know you’re serious about avoiding injuries everyone wins when the message is taken up by everyone.
  4. Expect mistakes, expect lapses in all that good stuff you’ve done to stop injuries. The Christmas rush amplifies the capacity for all of us to take silly risks. Factor it into your active management. “Saying an accident is due to human failing is about as helpful as blaming gravity for falls”. The very clever Professor Trevor Kletz in his book “An Engineer’s view of human error” nailed it.  One of your staff doing something silly doesn’t make them stupid, it makes them human. Smart risk control is not about blame, it’s about taking positive action.

Sitecraft is currently working with leading retailers, providing solutions to their material handling problems.  This involves providing equipment such as trolleys, platform ladders, conveyors and other purpose built equipment.