Retail Realities: Enhancing Health and Safety Training in the Retail Industry

27 May, 2024  |  News

In New Zealand, the retail industry plays a significant role in the economy, employing 230,000 Kiwis, around 9% of the total workforce.  This vital sector meets the daily needs of consumers, but is it doing enough to ensure its employees' health and safety (H&S) needs are met? The importance of proper H&S training cannot be overstated, especially in an industry that sees frequent interactions between staff, customers and various products.


Current Scenario

The retail sector in New Zealand experiences various health and safety challenges. High employee turnover rates, a diverse workforce with differing training needs and a lack of awareness about H&S regulations can lead to workplace incidents. For instance, inadequate training has resulted in falls from ladders while stocking shelves, injuries from improperly handled goods and harm during customer interactions.

In Worksafe's 2023 System for Work-related Injury Forecasting and Targeting (SWIFT) report, the retail industry ranked fifth for the highest number of injuries resulting in more than a week away from work.

These incidents not only adversely affect employees but can also have a cascading effect on businesses, including damage to reputation and reduced workplace morale. It is, therefore, crucial to identify and address these issues through effective H&S training.


Challenges in H&S Training

Retail businesses face many challenges when providing consistent, high-quality health and safety training. The fast-paced nature of the industry, where tasks are often varied and unpredictable, can make it difficult for new hires to receive thorough training from the outset. Many retailers experience high staff turnover rates, so investing in comprehensive training programs can seem daunting, especially when new employees frequently cycle through the business. This can result in inconsistent training experiences and knowledge gaps among staff.

The retail industry is also continually evolving as new technologies and processes are introduced. Experienced employees who have been with a company for a while may face unfamiliar risks due to these changes. Continuous learning and adaptation are crucial to keeping all staff members informed and prepared for new challenges.

The retail sector's diverse workforce brings its own set of training challenges. Employees come from various backgrounds and ages and may have different learning styles and language proficiencies. This diversity requires retailers to adopt flexible, tailored approaches to training that can accommodate individual learning needs and ensure everyone can effectively absorb and apply safety information. By addressing these unique challenges, retail businesses can create a safer, more inclusive work environment that benefits both employees and customers.


Importance of Enhanced Training

Improving H&S training in the retail industry is not just about meeting legal obligations. Enhanced training can create a safer work environment, reduce accidents, and increase productivity. By investing in thorough and effective training programs, retailers can significantly reduce the risk of accidents and injuries on the job, protecting employees and minimising potential disruptions to business operations and financial losses. A culture of safety and care also boosts employee morale and job satisfaction, leading to a more committed and motivated workforce.

When retailers prioritise the safety and well-being of their employees, they cultivate an environment where everyone feels valued and supported. This positive atmosphere can translate into better customer service.  It's a win-win situation for employees and customers, promoting a reputation for quality service and reliability.


Strategies for Improvement

To improve H&S training in the retail sector, businesses should adopt a comprehensive approach, including:


Tailored Training Programmes

Different retail environments have unique risks and hazards. Customising training to address specific needs ensures that employees are well-prepared for their roles.


Interactive Learning

Utilising technology, interactive modules and hands-on simulations can make training more engaging and effective. This practical approach helps employees retain information and apply it in real-world scenarios.


Ongoing Support and Resources 

Continuous learning and regular updates on safety protocols ensure employees stay informed about the latest safety measures and regulations.


Collaboration with +IMPAC

As New Zealand’s leading H&S training provider and consultant, +IMPAC offers comprehensive solutions tailored to the retail industry. With a proven track record of success, +IMPAC's approach emphasises understanding the unique needs of retail businesses and creating customised training programs to meet them.

Investing in effective H&S training programs can lead to a safer, more productive work environment. By collaborating with experts like +IMPAC, retail businesses can enhance their training efforts and fulfil their legal and moral responsibilities to their employees.

If you are a retail business owner, manager, or H&S professional, +IMPAC can offer expert guidance and tailored solutions to improve your business's safety and success. Together, we can create a safer, healthier retail environment for everyone.