Customer and employee safety is extremely important for every single business. Period. No matter what business you are in, you will have OSHA safety standards that you will have to abide by for safety regulations to keep both your employees and customers safe while working and shopping. Abiding by these regulations is absolutely necessary and required, and can limit your liability when an accident does happen.
Depending on the type of business you’re in there may be more or less OSHA regulations to pay attention to and to train employees on.
Employees have the right to work in safe conditions, free from hazards and known dangers. For office workers this can include providing employees ergonomic keyboards, ensuring isles are free from trip hazards, fire extinguishers are setup in the proper places (and ensuring they are checked monthly), etc.
In stores where customers shop the hazards can be a bit different because there are more hazards to watch out for. I work in a warehouse where customers shop, which produces its own set of hazards. Some general things to think about when looking for hazards in a customer-based environment include ensuring:
- Fire extinguishers are posted in the correct locations, are not blocked, and are checked on a monthly basis.
- There is no products on the floor in the isles that can be tripped over.
- There is no water or other liquid on the floor that can be slipped on.
- There are posted wet floor signs where appropriate.
- All hazardous spills are blocked off and cleaned up per OSHA standards.
- All overhead products are stacked to the correct height, where appropriate.
- All overhead pallets are stacked in compliance with OSHA laws, where appropriate.
- All hand-stacked products are secure and cannot fall on a customer.
- Products that must be marked with certain hazardous tags have the appropriate tags visible.
- There is no protruding products from shelves that can create a hazard.
- Lighting, including extension cords, are used for no more than 24 hours without being shut off.
These are just a few of the things to look for when conducting a safety sweep. These are a lot of things to look for, especially when working in a large building. So, how do you staff appropriately to ensure these things are all checked daily?
First, schedule at least two opening employees per department. This way one employee can check for safety concerns first thing during their shift. The second employee can put away returns, assist with fixing safety issues, and complete any other daily tasks or requests from upper management.
Second, create a team that focuses on safety of the company for the benefit of both the employees and customers. Once a month, or even once a week, schedule these employees specifically to walk the entire store looking for safety concerns, and then to fix them.
Third, hold your employees accountable. Having a safety checklist where the employee signs off daily helps with holding employees accountable in the event that safety concerns are found. If one employee continues to overlook safety concerns begin the coaching and write-up process to help adjust the employee’s performance.
In a warehouse environment employees may be required to hold a forklift license to ensure they can operate the forklift, reach, or other equipment to help fix safety issues. When scheduling opening employees it is helpful to schedule at least one employee with a forklift license so safety issues can be addressed immediately.