How Grocery Stores Can Stay Safe during COVID-19 Step up cleaning efforts.
Sterilize shopping carts and hand carts as often as possible. Stores can provide sanitizing wipes to customers upon entry to clean off the shopping carts as well. Perform a deep clean of the store in accordance with the guidelines from the CDC. Practice safe hand washing and hand sanitizing.
Employees should wash their hands regularly, especially cashiers who are in constant interaction with customers. Stay home when sick.
If staff members are not feeling well, encourage them to take a sick day. Consider wage continuation for both full-time and part-time workers to stay home if they are ill and appear to be suffering from respiratory issues. Consult your human resources policies and/or employment law attorney for guidance. Limit exposure as much as possible.
Close all self-service options, deli and hot food cases, as well as in-store seating areas. Post signage reminding customers to abide by social distancing rules. Limit the number of customers.
Set a limit for the number of customers allowed in the store at a time (based on the size of the store) to help maximize social distancing. It’s recommended that an employee should be positioned at the entrance to keep track of the customer count. Limit cash handling within stores.
Encourage customers to use credit cards to limit germ exposure. Some establishments have disabled the debit feature and covered the keypad so it isn’t needed. The customer simply inserts and pulls the card out without touching the device. Provide a designated hour for vulnerable customers.
Allow individuals who are more susceptible to the virus to shop during a designated time to limit crowds and exposure. Redirect the flow of traffic inside the store.
Re-position shelves and post directions to encourage a one-way flow to help minimize contact among customers. Designate employees to help obtain items for customers if they forget something after passing through these sections. Encourage customers to call ahead.
Allow customers to call in an order for their groceries ahead of time. Employees can bring out their purchases directly to them curbside, so customers don’t have to enter the building. If your store has the ability to offer home delivery, make arrangements to provide this service to more susceptible customers like the elderly and immune compromised. Consider eliminating the extra delivery charges as an incentive for patrons to use this service. Additional measures stores are undertaking.
Some establishments have added sneeze guards and plexi-glass barriers to checkout lanes to help protect employees and customers. Other safety measures include not accepting in-store returns or exchanges for the next three weeks and has stopped selling reusable bags to help prevent the spread of the virus. In addition, some stores have adjusted their opening hours to allow extra time for deep cleaning.
Maintaining Employee Safety
Employee safety training
In addition to the COVID-19 measures outlined above, proper training of new employees (and refreshing current employees) will help ensure their safety from injury risks as well. To meet the dramatic increase in customer volume, stores will be quickly hiring more workers to help. Under normal circumstances, stores can take their time bringing aboard new associates and devoting adequate time to familiarizing them with the store, its layout and its general day-to-day operations. But given the dire need to get these employees out on the floor to help with the high level of customer traffic and need to restock shelves quickly to meet demand, stores may rush through the training process, leading to an increase in workplace injuries and workers’ compensation claims. Safety for employees should always be a top priority for employers, especially during this difficult and challenging time.
Treatment options should an injury occur
Despite strict adherence to safety measures, workplace accidents and injuries can still occur. Should an employee suffer an injury, seeing a doctor may be challenging given the COVID-19 outbreak
. Additionally, there is a risk of contracting the virus while visiting a physician in-person; however, injured employees now have more options regarding their care and treatment. For example, AmTrust is working with its vendors to ensure ongoing assistance for injured employees, including continuing medical treatment via telemedicine. Injured employees can search for telemedicine options
when looking for approved providers.
If the injury involves ongoing treatment, routine or follow-up evaluation appointments may be deemed necessary. Providers may conduct telephone screening before confirming appointments and then offer telemedicine solutions to help address treatment needs. Currently, elective surgeries are being rescheduled to allow focus on critical care at this time. Also, orthopedic surgeries could see changes to their scheduling.
Read on for more information about common hazards grocery store workers face throughout the year, and learn what AmTrust’s Loss Control Department can do to help.
Common Grocery Store Workplace Hazards and Injuries
We took a deep dive into three years’ worth of claims data in our 2019 Retail Risk Report
, and we discovered one undeniable fact – the retail industry poses a substantial workplace injury risk for employees. This is backed up by a recent report
from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that lists the retail industry as having the third-highest rate of injuries in the workplace.
Among those retail industry businesses are grocery stores. Much like other retail stores, their employees face a multitude of risks in their day-to-day duties:
- Moving merchandise, displays, etc. which can lead to strains, sprains and other injuries related to lifting
- Falling from heights (stacking shelves that require the use of a ladder, as an example)
- Being struck by a product falling off a shelf
- Slips, trips and falls, or cuts from opening boxes with knives/sharps
We outlined in a previous blog post that auto accidents
are becoming an emerging threat to the safety of retail workers – this includes grocery stores, as many of them now offer delivery of food/provisions, medicines, etc.
A majority of grocery stores also typically feature a meat, fish and poultry department
, which has its own employee risks including cuts from knives
and machinery, strains/sprains, slips and falls, and chemical exposure.
To keep up with their competitors, many grocery stores feature non-food related departments, like gardening sections, automotive parts or household goods. Grocery stores often feature a pharmacy department. There are other roles within the store, such as the individuals who collect carts from the parking lot
or the staff that works in the back completing warehouse related tasks, like receiving shipments or using a forklift to move pallets of goods.
Operating a multi-faceted store means there are many injury risks to consider, so a comprehensive safety and loss control program is vital to keeping each employee safe in their respective roles within the workplace.
AmTrust is Here to Help
Our philosophy is that safety starts with knowledge. AmTrust knows that safety training is key to a proactive approach in minimizing injuries, incidents and controlling costs. Our grocery store clients can gain free access to safety training videos
relating to all types of workers' compensation hazards. These videos are designed for small group or large group training (classroom style) to enhance safety culture and facilitate safety meetings. You’ll also find a number of downloadable information sheets on topics such as:
Creating a workplace safety program helps reduce accident risks and injuries, from cuts/scrapes, repetitive motions, slips and falls, to strains and other muscle-related issues. Employers that enforce safety procedures and regulations, and provide training, education and occupational health programs, create a workplace environment in which employees feel safe every day they arrive at their place of employment. Additionally, these programs help to create an environment of employee loyalty.
We explored the importance of implementing workplace safety programs and how it can both positively impact the bottom line and make employees safer in “ROI of Safety-How to Create a Long-Term Profitable Safety Program.”
For tips on how to create workplace safety programs and build a strong safety culture, be sure to read our blog posts:
In addition to our extensive online resources and safety training, our Loss Control Department offers:
In-depth Risk Assessments
Equipped with experience and insight, our loss control consultants know what it takes to help you mitigate risk. From comprehensive loss control consultation to walk-throughs to help identify hazards and recommend controls, we have the knowledge and skills to help protect your employees.
Identifying trends is crucial to reducing future accidents and claims costs. AmTrust’s proprietary loss analysis software offers insight into your losses by providing detailed visual representations and graphical data to spot underlying trends specific to your grocery store. This data can be used to implement preventative measures to help minimize risk and keep claims costs down.
Virtual Risk Advisors
Don’t go it alone. Our specialists are available to answer your loss control questions, guide you to specific solutions and help with recommendations you may have received during our visit. Our team can steer you in the right direction. Connect with us at AskLC@amtrustgroup.com
or call 888.486.7466 to get started.
We Are Your Workers’ Compensation Coverage and Risk Management Solution
AmTrust is a leader in workers’ compensation insurance
for small to mid-sized businesses. We can design specific insurance packages to fit your grocery store’s needs. Our coverage combined with our comprehensive workplace safety training resources
can help protect you from risk. For more information, please contact us
today. This material is for informational purposes only and is not legal or business advice. Neither AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries or affiliates represents or warrants that the information contained herein is appropriate or suitable for any specific business or legal purpose. Readers seeking resolution of specific questions should consult their business and/or legal advisors. Coverages may vary by location. Contact your local RSM for more information.