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Steps needed to manage festive retail rollover

Employers reminded not to take staff for granted

The retail whirlwind started by Black Friday and its close online cousin, Cyber Monday, has come to mark the start of an international festive shopping season – and this year looks to be setting new records.

Shoppers, whether of the High Street or e-commerce variety, get some decent discounts and it’s a boost for business, employment and economies. But a senior IOSH executive has called on retail employers not to be tempted to use this hectic period to make up for lost sales revenue from the pandemic and drive their workers extra hard, especially when they might still be dealing with staff shortages.

The keys to staffing this retail rollover will be planning and communication, says Michael Edwards, an OSH Content Developer from the IOSH Advice and Practice team.

“Organisations with a strong safety culture tend to be more effective at preventing workplace accidents, injuries and ill-health,” said Michael.

“Planning how your organisation is going to manage the health and safety of its people during periods of heightened workload is absolutely essential,” he added.

“Something else that’s paramount is good communication and this has to be two-way – this is central to the collective ownership of a good safety culture that’s based on teamwork.”

Michael sees a world of difference between ‘worker consultation’ and ‘worker participation’: “ISO45001 defines consultation as “seeking views before making a decision”, though once these views are sought they could be ignored by box-ticking managers.

“By contrast, ‘participation’ can be defined as “involvement in decision-making”, which makes for real worker engagement,” he added.

“Effective communication is the blood flow that keeps an organisation alive; it allows growth and development, and helps with anticipating, and responding to, change in the external environment.”.

“Respectful rather than officious communication gives employees factual information but also inspires them with confidence to contribute, which in turn gives management the opportunity to create a positive, safe and productive working environment.”

The 2012 HSE ‘Step Change to Safety programme defined worker engagement as the, “active participation of everyone in the workforce in the management and improvement of safety. When engaged, workers feel able to improve safety where they work.”

IOSH has previously also drawn attention to the impact of shift work on the risk of injury, where working night shifts has been shown to have around a 25-30 percent higher risk of injury than working day shifts. Working 12-hour shifts rather than 8-hour shifts also increases the risk of injury by a similar amount.

IOSH resources

Tools for effective communication

The health effects of shift work

Establishing a safety culture

IOSH Magazine – ‘W’ for Worker involvement

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Jeremy Waterfield
Content Officer +44 (0)116 257 3632
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