• Damond Windham

3 Key components to a Safety Plan

In my 20+ years in the industry, I've seen tremendous change in safety in the retail world. There is much more to think about today than there was when my career began. Back then, we concerned ourselves with weather issues, the occasional shoplifter, and perhaps an angry customer. Today, we have more natural disasters, robberies, aggressive customers, and shoplifting. The latter has evolved into a profession for some in the form of organized retail crime. In recent years, we have seen violence involving disgruntled employees and incidents of active shooters. We work in a very dynamic, fluid environment that requires us to prepare differently to ensure the safety of our staff and customers.

Education, preparation, and planning are key to keeping our people safe, regardless of the threat source. I will never forget the frantic phone call I received from store manager during an active shooter situation in her store. She reached out to me for support. Thanks to Active Shooter Training she had received, the manager had already made all of the right decisions to keep her employees and her customers safe. No plan or training can cover all of the nuances of every incident, so it is critical that any training empowers leaders to make the best decisions in the height of a stressful situation.

A safety plan has many facets, but no matter the threat, it is recommended your plan have the following 3 components:

1. Evacuation- A plan including routes to primary and secondary meeting locations. It should include contact information for local authorities, the landlord, and all employees. Scheduled employees must know to check-in at the meeting location.

2. Response- A policy clarifying how to respond to in-store threats, such as: an overly aggressive customer, robbery, and shoplifting. It should make clear that employee safety is paramount to loss of money or product, and that they can leave the area if that is the safest course of action.

3. Opening and closing routines- A plan to defines procedures when opening or closing the store. These times of day require extra vigilance, no matter the location. Inadequate lighting should be reported to the landlord. Law enforcement should be made aware of any unusual activity.

Providing a safe environment requires conversations and training. Your people should be prepared to make sound decisions in a critical situation. Developing a plan, reviewing it with new hires, and revisiting it it monthly with existing staff will help protect your biggest asset- your employees.

If you need help developing a safety program and training your staff, we can help. We've developed plans that protect thousands of employees and customers. Let us help create a program to protect yours.