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Christmas: Shop Safety

Christmas is the busiest time of the year in the retail sector, when shoppers surge to the high street to prepare for the festive season. The importance of providing a safe environment for Christmas shopping can't be over-emphasised, as any breaches of health and safety regulations by the retailer can have disastrous results.

The retail sector is one of the UK's biggest employers, with around three million people working in the industry. Retailers must ensure they are prepared for the busy period and that they have considered the safety of both their customers and employees.

The safety of staff and customers on the premises is monitored by the Health and Safety Executive, which is tasked with investigating any accidents and injuries that occur. With the influx of Christmas shoppers imminent, it's particularly important that the relevant safety measures are in place in advance of the festive rush.

Falling over

© pressmaster / © Ariil Davidov / Adobe Stock


Trapdoor tragedy

Breaches of shop safety can have far-reaching consequences. Retailer WH Smith was handed the biggest fine in its 225-year history, after a woman was injured in an accident involving a trapdoor at its Fore Street, Taunton, branch. The court heard how staff had used the trapdoor for several years to pass stock up from the basement, but in February 2014, customer Patricia Rodway was seriously injured when she popped into WH Smith to buy a birthday card. She accidentally stepped into the trapdoor and fell down the hole, her arm catching on the chain that was holding the trap door open.

The court heard that there wasn't any physical barrier to prevent anyone from falling down the trapdoor. As a result of her fall, Mrs Rodway sustained serious injuries. She spent 17 days in hospital, with injuries including a broken ankle and a cut to the head. The after-effects were described as "devastating".

Following the accident, the basement trap door is no longer in use by WH Smith. The retailer admitted two counts of failing to carry out its health and safety duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act and was ordered by the court to pay £337,500 as a result.


Trips and slips

Trips and slips are the major causes of injury in the retail sector, according to the Health and Safety Executive. The problems occur when spills are not cleaned up quickly and effectively, when smooth floors are left wet after cleaning and where the staff fail to keep the floor free from contamination.

Smooth floors that have been left damp after mopping are normally extremely slippery and a hazard, while trailing electrical wires from a vacuum cleaner or floor buffing machine can trip people up.

According to accident statistics, the most common accidents sustained in a busy retail environment and requiring treatment by paramedics include:

  • Tripping and falling as a result of being pushed or jostled by crowds of shoppers
  • Heavy goods falling on to shoppers from high shelves if they have been dislodged by having the adjacent item removed
  • Being slammed by a shopping trolley, especially the older metal type that is overloaded with heavy goods


Health and safety

Retailers can find themselves in serious trouble if they fail to follow the correct health and safety procedures, while shoppers or staff can be injured, or even killed, by preventable accidents in the workplace.

If you're a retailer, prepare now for the Christmas rush by stepping up your health and safety procedures. A good place to start? Well, you can prevent slippery floor accidents with Coruba's high-quality rubber matting that is just perfect for multiple uses in any retail outlet.

As a retailer, you should also make sure you're familiar with the law relating to health and safety procedures.

Give us a call on 01702 560194 for more details of our rubber safety matting for the retail industry.

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