Expert View

Why carrying out a risk assessment is so crucial for convenience retailers

18 June 2019

We asked Suresite Group’s health and safety manager Neil Simms why carrying out an appropriate and regular risk assessment is so crucial for convenience retailers

People generally conduct informal, mental risk assessments on a daily basis, for example when to cross the road or whether to purchase a house or car- yet many convenience store owners still shy away when it comes to conducting a decent workplace risk assessment.

This may be for a number of reasons from lack of knowledge or confidence to time pressures or a lack of awareness of the requirements of workplace law. Conducting a suitable and sufficient risk assessment is the cornerstone of any health and management system. Recording the significant findings of that assessment demonstrates that you have taken the time to identify hazards on your site and considered the associated risks. It is also a legal requirement for c-stores to record the findings if they employ five people or more. However, best practice would dictate that every employer records those findings.

Identify potential dangers

Risk assessment is crucial to identify potential dangers in the workplace, as well as in any associated process. When done properly it will highlight those risks that are acceptable and unacceptable, as well as those that are tolerable once sufficient control measures are introduced.

Importantly, a convenience store risk assessment is a ‘living document’. It requires regular review and update where necessary. It is not just a case of ‘ticking a box’ and filing it away once conducted, never to be looked at again. The findings of any risk assessment should be shared with staff and any actions highlighted within should be completed within a suitable timescale.

Many health and safety breaches are due to human error. From failing to clear up that spill, to forgetting to arrange a maintenance visit, history is strewn with failures and misdemeanours that have led to accidents and near misses in the workplace. Complacency plays a part, as does an unwillingness to invest in health and safety.

The old adage of health and safety not making a business any money has always been counterbalanced with the fact it can actually save that business money – a reduction in the potential for litigation claims, insurance pay-out refusals and fines being examples.

But what about the aspects of good H&S management that can potentially make a retailer money – such as better customer perception of the business and better staff buy in? The benefits are obvious – increased foot fall and staff productivity being amongst them. However, get things wrong and the consequences are all too apparent: poor publicity in the media, potential prosecution and loss of customer trust to name but a few.

Retailers have a duty of care

In view of the above, convenience stores have much to consider with food storage and preparation, security, underage sales, staff welfare, manual handling and training all high on the list. Standard operating procedures and policies are also extremely important, as is the provision of adequate personal protection equipment. But the coordinating factor in all of this has to be the risk assessment, along with a robust health and safety policy.

There is a legal responsibility to consider those that may be at particular risk when working in a convenience store- such as young workers, temporary or seasonal workers and pregnant women. Extra input and adjustment may be required in such circumstances and a suitable and sufficient assessment can help to identify this. The bottom line is that risk assessment should be happening now and not be put off for another day. After all, if an accident or incident has happened, it is already too late – and the inevitable consequences may be about to follow.

Suresite Group has been a leading provider of risk assessments to the petrol retail sector for 25 years and has just launched a new assessment to aid those operating in the retail and convenience sector.

Give  us a call on 01772 790 901 or email customerservice@suresite.co.uk to find out how we can take H&S off your to do list for less than £1 a day

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