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DALLAS — High turnover in the retail, restaurant and hospitality industries challenges efforts to train employees to prevent workplace injuries, according to risk managers.
Some of the biggest causes of workplace accidents and injuries in these sectors are falls, cuts, burns, lifting, pulling and pushing, and falling objects, according to experts speaking at the 2018 CLM & Business Insurance Retail, Restaurant & Hospitality Conference in Dallas on Thursday.
There are many areas to consider when it comes to addressing these safety issues, according to experts.
“We target three general areas: design, ergonomics and controls,” said Bob Bowman, Dublin, Ohio-based director of risk management for the Wendy's Co. “What can we do to control the environment, reduce or eliminate those causes of loss? The second is polices, procedures, education. What can we do to ensure that those who are a part of the environment understand how we intend they’ll conduct themselves in that environment. The third is behavior. You insert humans, we will figure out a way to screw it up. We approach all of those as critical elements of our programs.”
But safety training is a challenge for employers in the retail, restaurant and hospitality industries because they may deal with employee turnover, seasonal workers and potential language barriers.
“We have developed a learning management system, and in the past year we have really tried to trim that as much as possible to simplify it,” said Rabon Mayes, Charlotte, North Carolina-based director of risk management at Extended Stay America. “For us, we try and simplify the training and make it as easy to understand as possible. We took a 45-minute training down to a 15-minute module.”
Mr. Mayes says his company utilizes translation services to address possible language barriers.
In the retail industry, the high turnover rate may affect safety training, according to experts.
“Part of the problem is retaining that manager in the store in the retail environment, especially in a mall environment,” said Veda Mabry, Orange County, California-based risk manager for Pacific Sunwear. “You can train somebody, and they train their associates, but then Billy down the street offers 5 cents more an hour and then they are gone. Then that training goes out the door, and when an accident happens, associates don’t know what to do.”
Ms. Mabry says that every month she puts out a safety topic to keep associates up to date on safety issues. Mr. Bowman has found success by closely aligning safety training with the company’s operations team.
“We are now presenting training according to the vocabulary of the operations team,” Mr. Bowman said. “The cadence of the training is consistent with the cadence of operations with the restaurant.”
Violence in the workplace continues to be an emerging issue. In the case of violent shoplifters, employers should emphasize that the employee not run or go after perpetrators, according to Ms. Mabry.
“Merchandise is not worth your life,” she said.
SafeStart CEO and author Larry Wilson and senior safety consultant Tim Page-Bottorff recently spoke to Business Insurance reporter Joyce Famakinwa at the 2017 National Safety Council Congress & Expo in Indianapolis about the future of workplace safety, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and workplace safety within a multigenerational workforce. SafeStart provides human error prevention training and safety consultation to employers and organizations. Edited excerpts follow.