All businesses experience some degree of workplace risk from common accidents like slips, trips and falls. However, convenience stores face a potentially greater risk that owners need to be prepared for workplace violence.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, convenience stores experience a seven times higher rate of work-related homicide than workers in other industries. Factors that contribute to this include easy access for criminals to cash, alcohol and tobacco, as well as employees often working alone during late-night or early-morning shifts.
Convenience store owners owe it to their employees to foster an environment where everyone can do their jobs safely. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), here are four important steps business owners can take to help reduce the risk of workplace violence for their employees:
1) Provide violence prevention training. OSHA recommends all employees go through a comprehensive violence prevention program that emphasizes conflict de-escalation strategies. Business owners can consult local law enforcement to find a reputable private company that specializes in violence prevention training.
2) Require frequent cash drops. Adjust operations and establish strict cash control processes that require workers to use drop safes to reduce the amount of cash in the till and post signage indicating that the store keeps only minimum cash on hand at all times. You could also consider not accepting bills over $20. Having less cash on hand can reduce the likelihood of a store being robbed.
3) Improve visibility. Convenience stores often operate 24 hours a day. Make sure your store has good indoor and outdoor lighting, and that there is good visibility into and outside the business.
4) Establish a response plan. Make sure all employees clearly understand specific actions to take in the event of a robbery. Review step-by-step instructions on what to do during and after the hold-up. This includes things like making sure all employees are safe, securing the door, calling the police and triggering an alarm. Business owners can also consult OSHA for more information on response planning.
Even the best safety plans are only effective if they are put into practice. Business owners and managers need to clearly communicate safety policies and procedures to all employees. Prevention measures and other safety protocols should be reviewed at least quarterly with all employees to make sure everyone fully understands their importance and how to implement them. Frontline employees should also regularly be asked for feedback on ways they can help improve safety in the store.
Robberies, assaults and other types of workplace violence are frightening and should be treated seriously. One of the best ways convenience store business owners can help keep workers safe and protect their property is to make their stores less of a target for violent crime, as well as to train employees to properly handle and de-escalate potentially violent situations.
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