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A New Definition of Customer Service: Pandemic Safety in Retail

A New Definition of Customer Service: Pandemic Safety in

Retail businesses face high levels of traffic from customers. It can be difficult to keep potentially infectious individuals from putting employees or other customers at risk. In the face of an unknown risk, it is essential to establish trust in both your customers and your staff. One way to do that is to implement loss prevention measures designed to reduce the spread of disease in your store.

Consumers want to see stores making efforts to protect their safety. Stores also have an obligation to protect their workers from infection. Workers on the front lines (at cash registers and in the aisles, interacting with consumers) are at an increased risk of infection, while those behind the scenes (administrative, stock room, and overnight) are at a lower risk.

Stores should follow state and federal guidelines for operating safely during a pandemic. Consider these measures, recommended by OSHA and the CDC, to protect customers and front–line employees:

  • Use barriers such as Plexiglas to separate workers from customers;

  • Install signage to keep customers and workers at least 6 feet apart from each other;

  • Install self–checkout kiosks;

  • Have workers wipe down credit card stations between each transaction, or provide wipes for customers to do it;

  • Regularly clean/disinfect door handles and other high–touch surfaces, including refrigerators, grocery carts, and break rooms;

  • Consider reducing the maximum occupancy of the store;

  • Introduce store pickup and delivery options to reduce the number of customers in the store;

  • Require or encourage mask use by all customers and workers; and

  • Provide hand sanitizer throughout the store, especially at entrances and cash registers.

Adjusting workers’ schedules can also help to reduce the spread of disease. For example, employers can build more short breaks into worker schedules and cycle employees in and out of cash registers in order to encourage handwashing. Restocking operations should occur when there are few customers in the store, such as right before opening, after closing, or during off–peak hours. For employees who work at more than one location, limit store–to–store travel as much as possible.

Disease prevention is one part of a complete safety program. All businesses should have a safety committee to implement and monitor loss prevention efforts and revise policies when needed.

NJM was established more than 100 years ago and has remained committed to providing reliable, cost–effective, and safety–focused insurance. All NJM business policyholders receive access to loss prevention resources to help reduce injuries and illnesses in the workplace.

The information contained in this article should not be construed as professional advice, and is not intended to replace official sources. Other resources linked from these pages are maintained by independent providers; therefore, NJM cannot guarantee their accuracy.