Retailers: Using Technology for Safety Compliance

By andrew cantle on July 9, 2015

Retailers: Using Technology for Safety ComplianceImagine a retail clerk spots a loose, half-broken display shelf in the corner of your store. The shelf holds an assortment of clearance items, positioned precariously and ready to topple over on the next customer or employee who passes. What does the clerk do?

That depends on how you run your safety program.

If you rely on paper forms, the clerk might fill out the form, leave it in the designated intake box, and move on to other responsibilities — a process that can take hours, if not days or weeks, to make its way to the repairperson who can fix the shelf. 

If you equip your retail workers with mobile apps, however, that same sequence of events can happen almost instantaneously. The employee enters the problem into the app on his or her mobile device. Maintenance receives it and can repair the shelf immediately. As a manager or operator, you can see it on the spot, too, and follow up to ensure a good solution.

New regulations call for new solutions
Today, heightened safety regulations raise the bar for retailers to establish a robust safety program and make it a top priority. Response time and efficiency matter — and can make or break your ability to pass safety inspections. That means doing away with the paper-based systems retailers have used for decades. 

For retailers, safety inspections now happen at the federal, state, county, and municipal levels, with inspectors evaluating all kinds of things — your illness and injury prevention plan, emergency evacuation plan, policies on fire prevention, ergonomics, electrical safety, ladder use, walkway and corridor accessibility, and sexual harassment policies. And that’s just a start.

From your store floor and checkout lines to your restrooms, employee break rooms, stock rooms, shopping carts, and parking lots, inspectors monitor nearly every inch of your operation to ensure safe working conditions for your employees — and safe shopping conditions for customers

Technology a key to safety success
As the tightening of regulations continues, retailers are looking for practical ways to manage their safety program as efficiently and effectively as possible. Many are turning to technology. But with so many expensive, complicated technologies on the market, what solutions exist for retailers? How can you find one that meets your specific needs? 

Considering that your employees likely have varied tech experience, the last thing you want is to give them something they can’t use. That’s why simple solutions like mobile apps, which the majority of employees already use on their own, work best.

How can mobile apps help?
Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets put information at your employees’ fingertips — including the many safety regulations they need to track and enforce in your store, but might not always remember in the rush of the job. By equipping your managers and employees with something as simple as a mobile safety checklist, you can lower your risk of an essential safety measure slipping through the cracks — and leading to a costly lawsuit or even workers’ compensation claim.

Why checklists? Again, the goal is to keep it simple, and there’s nothing complicated about a checklist, which can help you systematically ensure that your safety procedures are clear, effective, and easy for your employees to access and follow. You can use mobile checklists to:

  • Complete store and merchandise inspections
  • Identify risks and alert folks of them immediately
  • Create emergency plans
  • Label hazardous materials
  • Maintain equipment
  • Train new employees
  • Prepare for OSHA and local government inspections

The benefits of going mobile
Using mobile checklists and other apps to manage your safety program can speed up your response time in significant ways. In addition, you’ll have a documented trail to see precisely what happened, when, and how your staff responded.

With mobile safety apps, your data is always available, so store managers can see what safety measures are accounted for and what still needs to be done. All in all, you’ll speed up and simplify the compliance process, while increasing the accountability of your staff.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of equipping your team with mobile devices and apps are that your employees will feel armed and empowered with information. Unlike the clerk who submitted the paper form and moved on, your employees will have what they need to see things through to the end.

To learn more about how mobile apps and other technologies can help retailers, download our free eBook, “4 Ways Technology Helps Retailers Thrive in the Modern Marketplace.”