It might sound obvious, but not all convenience stores are the same. The varying size from a traditional corner shop to large multi-site supermarket make the risk profile very different.
Other key factors include the location itself, be it town centre or rural, to the type of products or stock – for example, whether a store stocks cigarettes or alcohol.
While these risk factors may impact the frequency or size of the health and safety exposure, the fundamental profile of risk remains the same and how you manage and reduce this risks can directly impact your Convenience Shop Insurance premiums.
Risk Profile Basics
Despite the size and location differences, most convenience stores will deal with the same general types of risks due to the nature of their business and their clientele. For example, a small shop with a long queue of customers all rushing to leave at one time can cause serious liability issues.
The following overview of the common health and safety risks in convenience stores can be used as a starting point on which to develop your own shop’s risk management programme.
#1 Risk Assessments
As an employer, you have a legal obligation required to carry out risk assessments for all work-related tasks that your employees complete. In addition to compliance, you should also undertake risk assessments to ensure you have identified and minimised your business’ specific risks. Simply using generic convenience store risk assessments will not suffice, since these will not identify many risks particular to your business. As such individual risk assessments should be developed tailored to your individual exposures.
Risk assessments need not be complex. A simple walk around your shop, noting what may cause harm is a great starting point. Talking to your employees about their health and safety concerns and studying your shop’s accident book to see if there are any recurring accidents or near misses can also assist in developing trends or obvious risks.
Once you have obtained this information, you can build a risk management programme that controls your shop’s risks, from the minor hazards affecting only a few people to the larger exposures which could impact everybody in your business.
#2 Common Shop Risks
Although the health and safety risks impacting convenience stores can vary from business-to-business, almost all shops will experience these common hazards.
Slip and Trips
One of the most common Shop Insurance claims result from slips and trips, either by members of the public (public liability) or your own staff (employers’ liability). Spillages and stock left on the floor, uneven surfaces and/or doorways which can be subject to the wet/rain can all cause potential slips or trips.
Should your store be based on a petrol station forecourt, this risk can increase considerably due to petrol or oil spillages.
To reduce the risk of slips and trips, develop a programme which keeps your shop floor in good condition, in particular, any spillages should be immediately cleared.
When cleaning up a spill, ensure that employees use a ‘wet floor’ warning sign. In wet weather, always place a doormat at the entrance to encourage good housekeeping, however, take some time to consider whether the mat is fit for purposes, or this could further increase the trip hazard over the mat itself.
Stocking procedures should also be reviewed, boxes placed in shop aisles represent another common trip hazard. Boxes and ladders should not be left unattended and care should be taken not to block any aisle.
Moving and Handling Stock
Although it may not seem like an obvious risk, but handling and moving stock can cause serious back injuries for employees who routinely lift large, bulky items such as newspaper deliveries.
Your health and safety plan should include rigorous training of employees including proper lifting techniques that take the pressure off their backs. When loads are too large or heavy, instruct your employees to use an appropriate trolley. You should devise a system for storing heavy or large loads at an accessible, appropriate height.
You should avoid storing heavy items or goods on high shelves and the potential of falling stock or cabinets can prove particularly dangerous.
Violence and Robbery
Convenience stores and other retailers carrying cash and target stock, such as tobacco or alcohol, can be particularly susceptible to violence. The high number of customers and the ability to exit and enter quickly, and limited staff numbers can also raise the risk of an attack.
You should consider installing closed-circuit television, alarms and other security measures to deter violence and robberies. You should also provide training to staff in terms of handling tense situations with customers or robbers.
By establishing an emergency procedure for staff to follow in the event of robbery or violence, staff are prepared and able to manage the safety of other customers and themselves without panic, reducing the risk of injury and subsequent liability claims.
Working at Height
Climbing ladders to place stock on high shelves, and any other work tasks that involve working at height, can lead to falls or lifting injuries due to bruising, fractures and/or back injuries.
As an employer, you have a duty of care to your staff to reduce risks of working at height by providing suitable equipment and education on how to use that equipment properly. Store frequently used and popular items in an accessible area — working at height should be avoided whenever possible to remove the risk.
Without safe procedures for managing vehicle deliveries, staff or members of the public may suffer severe or even fatal injuries if struck by a vehicle.
Establish systems to avoid transport-related injuries, such as designating a certain time of day for deliveries that does not coincide with your shop’s busier periods. Ideally, you should separate the areas where vehicles unload from areas with pedestrian access - Foot traffic and vehicle traffic should not share the same space. Instruct and training your employees in proper unloading procedures, such as not jumping off delivery vehicles or walking backwards.
Cleaning is an essential part of hygiene safety, especially in convenience stores that see a lot of foot traffic every day. However, when your employees use cleaning chemicals, they risk skin irritation or eye damage. Even the vapours from chemicals such as bleach can be dangerous.
All employees should be trained as part of the on-boarding process, as well as refresher training for existing staff, as to how to properly use and store hazardous chemicals. Best practice is to insist that employees use protective gloves and take other precautions to lessen their chance of exposure.
The risk of electrical shock from faulty equipment or poor electrical installation can happen anywhere at any time.
When conducting your risk assessments, look for any defective electrical equipment. Make sure that your employees know where the fuse box is located and how to turn off the electricity in an emergency.
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