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With new figures showing that slips, trips and falls account for almost a third of all non-fatal injuries at work, Bureau Veritas is instructing retailers to focus on creating a ‘positive safety culture’ in order to protect staff and customers from such accidents.

It comes as latest research from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) shows that in 2017/18, 1.4 million people suffered from a work-related illness and 555,000 from a workplace injury, equating to 30.7 million working days being lost, impacting productivity and profitability of businesses across the UK. The main accident type over the past two years has been slips, trips and falls, accounting for 31% of all injuries, followed closely by lifting and handling at 21%.

With both of these accident types being particularly prominent in a retail environment, it’s never been more important for retailers to address their health and safety strategies, according to Bureau Veritas.

Carol Robinson, HSE Manager at Bureau Veritas, said: “Under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, retailers are responsible for taking all practicable precautions against ‘reasonably foreseeable’ risks in order to prevent injury and ill-health. As well as duties towards employees, a retailer must also ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons other than employees are not exposed to risks to their health and safety. This includes customers, volunteers, contractors and business partners.

“Retailers must firstly ensure they have adequate policies and procedures in place and build a positive safety culture within the organisation which incorporates management commitment and good effective communication between all employees at all levels. It would also be beneficial for retailers to achieve certification to ISO 45001, due to come into force in March 2021, which is the new international standard for occupational health and safety.”

Meanwhile, Vicky Shah, Bureau Veritas’ sector lead for retail, suggests retailers should adopt a ‘plan, do, check, act and react’ strategy, adding that retailers should not overlook the importance of effective communication.

She comments: “Retailers must ensure they communicate well and often within the organisation, whilst working closely with their safety and compliance partner to identify risk and improve safety across their operations. Health and safety is certainly a meet in the middle approach. Top down, safety has to be a priority right the way up to the top of any organisation and an agenda item at board level meetings. In return, bottom up is how retailers drive their safety culture – employees should have a platform to highlight, discuss and address concerns around safety and wellbeing.”

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