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Public health has come to the forefront of everyone’s minds over the years. Commercial businesses and health centers have taken a deep look into what measures their establishment can take in order to keep customers and employees safe and healthy. Many establishments have been surprised by how many health risks present in their business. 

Even though retail shopping seems relatively harmless, retail stores are no stranger to health and safety risks. With the proper preparation and education, your retail store can limit health risks immensely. Read on to discover common health risks that retail stores face and how you can alleviate them.

Check-Out Counter Interactions

One of the largest health risks at retail stores is check-out counter interactions. At the cashier counter, people are in close proximity to each other which makes it easier to spread germs. Infectious airborne particles spread through the air due to talking, coughing, and sneezing. 

If someone at the checkout counter is carrying a contagious illness or virus, the particles can travel to the other people in the vicinity, highly increasing their risk of getting sick. If infectious airborne particles come into play during one interaction, a quick chain reaction response occurs in which the infectious particles rapidly spread to more and more people.

Beyond airborne contagions, check-out counters also face the health risk of contagious surfaces. The people at your retail check-out counter handle cash, credit cards, pin pads, keyboards, and merchandise. If any or all of these surfaces are not clean, employees and customers face the health risk of contracting germs from the surfaces. 

How to Combat 

Check-out counters don’t have to be an unhealthy place. One of the safest and most efficient ways to limit the spread of contagious airborne particles at the cashier counter is to install protective sneeze guard barriers

Sneeze guards work as a barrier between two people that stops infectious germs in their tracks. They are made out of durable, transparent plexiglass. The transparent plexiglass ensures that customers and employees can still see, hear, and interact with each other as normal while they remain protected. 

There are many types of sneeze guard barriers that are great for retail check-out counters. Hanging barriers, freestanding sneeze guards with pass-throughs, or even custom designs make excellent additions to your retail cashier counter. Be sure to clean your sneeze guards regularly to ensure that the protective technology continues to work as intended.

To limit germs on surfaces, implement a regular cleaning and sanitizing schedule at your store. It is wise to place hand sanitizing stations at high-traffic areas such as check-out counters and store entrances. 

High In-Store Capacity

Another health risk in retail stores is overcrowded spaces. Your retail store most likely has a capacity limit that meets a safety code. However, a retail store’s capacity limit is still often too high to practice safe social distancing. 

If the customers in your retail store are crowded in, they risk spreading contagious airborne particles to one another and to employees. The more people that are in one indoor space, the higher the risk is for spreading contagious illnesses and viruses to people and onto surfaces. 

How to Combat

The best way to combat high in-store capacity is to implement social distancing practices. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people should remain 3 to 6 feet apart from each other indoors in order to help prevent the spread of contagious viruses. 

Social distancing can be implemented in many ways, including:

  • Limiting the number of people inside your retail store at one time
  • Placing markers on the floor so that people stay spaced out while they wait in line
  • Putting up signs in your retail store that remind customers to social distance
  • Offer online ordering and contactless pickup

Heavy Lifting

Beyond illnesses, health risks in retail stores also present as injuries on the job. Many retail positions require employees to lift heavy objects. Retail work-related injuries unfortunately remain common. Injuries can result from physical activity such as:

  • Reaching
  • Lifting and moving heavy products
  • Repetitive motions
  • Long periods of standing
  • Climbing unsafe ladders

Slips and falls are also health risks in retail stores. When employees clean the floors with a wet mop, they greatly increase their risk of slipping and falling. Additionally, cramped or disorganized storage rooms present the risk of tripping and falling. 

Slips, trips, and falls in retail stores are more common than you may think. The CDC shares the statistic that slips, trips, and falls are the third most common cause of work-related injuries in retail establishments. Injury-causing falls are most common among retail workers aged 45 and older. 

How to Combat

One of the best ways to combat work-related injuries in retail stores is to increase training efforts. Educate your staff on how to avoid the hazards of slips, trips, and falls. It is also a good idea to train workers how to lift and carry heavy items in a way that minimizes injury. 

Other helpful ways to minimize the risk of slips, trips, and falls include:

  • Keep aisles and storage rooms free of clutter and tripping hazards
  • Provide ample cleanup supplies in convenient locations
  • Place water-absorbent mats near entrances, exits, and other areas where water may be tracked onto the floor 
  • Dry off surfaces as soon as they become wet
  • Place cautionary wet floor signs in slippery areas
  • Provide your employees with durable, non-slip shoes

Make sure all employees are fully informed of the risks and preventive measures for workplace injuries. These efforts will also keep your customers safe. 

Prioritize Health in Your Retail Store

The customers and employees of your retail store deserve to have their health and safety prioritized. Demonstrate your care and concern by implementing helpful protocols. Place sneeze guards at cashier counters, practice social distancing, and increase training efforts to minimize injuries. 

If you’re searching for the perfect protective sneeze guard to help keep your retail store healthy, Barrier Lab has you covered. You can shop our ready-to-ship safety solutions or reach out to our team to create a custom solution for your retail store.