Managing Risks in Your Retail Business

Managing risks in retail

Managing risks: accidents can happen when you least expect them

Owning a shop means you know all about creating a shopping experience to remember. But while predicting your customers’ needs and making sure you have the right products in place to meet them is important, as you will know, it shouldn’t be your only priority. 

There can be many pitfalls and dangers present on your shop premises, from spillages and trip hazards to electrics and fire risks. Accidents can and do happen, but having the right processes in place can reduce the impact should an incident occur. 

The health and safety of your customers is paramount, and the same goes for you and your staff. So how can you put the right procedures and processes in place to help protect your business? Carrying out a risk assessment is the perfect place to start. 

What is a risk assessment?

A risk assessment is basically the methodical analysis and exploration of anything that is carried out in the workplace including the specific jobs and the processes involved. It aims to identify any potential hazards and calculate the risk of damage to property or harm to an individual, and identify the measures that need to be put into place to remove, control or reduce that risk to an acceptable level. The primary goal is to ensure the health and safety of not only your workers but also your customers or indeed anyone else visiting the work premises. 

Why should I carry out a risk assessment?

As an employer you have a legal requirement to protect your employees and others from harm. If you employ more than five people, be they full or part-time employees, trainees or even volunteers, you are legally required to have suitable risk-assessment documentation in place. However, even if you employ fewer staff than this it is still good practice to conduct a risk assessment across your business to instil a safety-conscious mindset and protect your people and premises.  

Once you have identified the things that could go wrong and have put in place strategies to minimise those risks, your business will be better prepared and have more cost-effective ways of dealing with them. Implementing an effective risk-management programme will increase your chance of success.

Here at a glance are just a few reasons why you should regularly conduct a risk assessment:  

  • To adhere to legal requirements
  • To avoid large fines which can be levied if businesses do not meet required standards
  • To safeguard employees, visitors etc.
  • To ensure any risks to staff and visitors’ health, wellbeing or safety are either eliminated or controlled  
  • To reduce the threat of possible litigation
  • To avoid invalidating your insurance

There are many benefits of providing a safe and secure environment for everyone. It ensures your people and assets are protected; your legal liability is reduced; and the stability of your operations is increased. It will also bring savings in terms of time, income, assets, people and property. 

How to perform a risk assessment

A risk assessment broadly covers the following steps:

  1. Identify what could cause illness or injury in the workplace
  2. Assess the risk – decide the likelihood of someone being harmed and how serious it could be
  3. Take appropriate actions to remove, eliminate or control the risk
  4. Record your findings including the hazards you have identified; who or what might be at risk as a result; and the steps you are taking to address these
  5. Review your risk assessment regularly – every 6-12 months or more frequently if an incident occurs

Following risk-assessment templates that are designed specifically for your type of business can help to make the process as straightforward and thorough as possible. 

What happens if risks are ignored? 

Some risks can be put right easily while others are completely unavoidable. However, failure to put preventative measures in place could have a substantial financial and reputational impact on your and your business in the event of a claim. 

Public liability claims

If a customer is involved in an accident or is injured on your premises, it could result in them seeking compensation from you. This is known as a public liability claim. It can be a long and painful process for both parties involved, so it’s wise to make sure you have processes in place to reduce the chances of an accident happening, as well as insurance or alternative cover to help protect you in the event that a claim is made against you. 

Employers’ liability claims

As mentioned above, if you employ any staff who are not close family members, you are legally required to have employers’ liability insurance with at least £5 million of cover in place. It’s your responsibility to make sure your staff are safe and can perform their job without causing injury or harm to themselves. Accidents in the workplace can result in costly employers’ liability claims. 

Download your free risk assessment guide

At The Retail Mutual we have been managing claims and protecting businesses since 1999. Drawing on more than twenty years of experience, we have created an in-depth health and safety guide and accompanying risk assessment for independent retailers. This helpful resource includes:

  • A free, user-friendly risk-assessment template
  • The importance of performing risk assessments
  • How to spot risks
  • Working with tools of the trade
  • Solutions to reduce risks
  • Fire safety
  • Chemical symbols
  • Protecting your staff
  • COVID-19 risk update

To download a free copy, click here.

Contributor: The Retail Mutual