Lone Worker Protection for Retail Workers

24/7 personal safety solutions for shop workers and the wider retail network

455 incidents of violence towards retail workers each dayThe retail industry is big business, employing around 3 million people in the UK.

But, unfortunately, cases of violence or aggression in the retail sector are on the increase with many stores looking to SoloProtect for a lone working or personal safety solution to help keep their employees safe and to demonstrate duty of care.

But violent and/or aggressive behaviour is only one of the safety hazards faced by UK shop workers …

What are the risks in the retail industry?

Due to the diverse roles within the retail sector, there are wide-ranging hazards that will form part of a retail risk assessment and should be considered when exploring a lone working or personal safety solution. These are highlighted below, along with some of the most high-risk retail roles.

Common retail risks

  • Opening or closing stores
  • Handling cash
  • Managing deliveries
  • Customer aggression or abuse
  • Shoplifters
  • Working alone
  • Slips, trips and falls
  • Heavy lifting

Retail roles most likely at risk

  • Shops with few staff
  • Off license workers
  • Retail delivery drivers
  • Warehouse staff
  • Night shift workers
  • Security staff
  • Petrol station workers
  • Service station workers

But are there lone workers in the retail sector?

Lone working is not instantly associated with the retail sector because many people view “lone workers” as employees who work away from their base or office. 

But it’s important to remember that, as part of their day-to-day roles, retail workers often have to deal with situations alone even if there are other workers or shoppers within the vicinity e.g. entering a warehouse or stock room alone, stacking shelves, operating a checkout, opening or closing up alone, delivering goods, managing a dressing room, or covering a lunch break. There are more situations of lone working in retail than you might think.

If you want to understand more about who is classed as a "lone worker", take a look at our blog: What is a lone worker?

It’s not just about lone workers

As demonstrated by the common retail risks above, there are many situations where retail workers might feel vulnerable and a SoloProtect personal safety solution could provide the help and reassurance they need.

Retail lone workers need protection from violence

According to a recent report from the British Retail Consortium (BRC), there were an average of 455 incidents of violence and/or abuse against retail staff each day in 2019 which is 7% more than the previous year. That’s 166,075 incidents across the whole year. The BRC explained that the situation has worsened during the Coronavirus pandemic and is calling for greater protection for all retail workers – not just those who work alone.

Moreover, the Co-op reported a 76% rise in reports of anti-social behaviour and verbal abuse towards its retail staff in 2020, noting more than 100 incidents per day. The abuse varied from weapons (e.g. knives and syringes) being used to threaten retail workers to being spat at, coughed at or stalked.

Talking to the BBC, Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive at the BRC, commented: "Will retail workers in England and Wales ever receive the protection they deserve?

"These are not mere statistics, those affected are our parents, our partners and our children, all who needlessly suffer, just for doing their job. Many incidents arise as staff carry out their legal duties, including age verification and more recently, implementing Covid safety measures."

The BRC has produced a helpful video in collaboration with SoloProtect’s partner charity, Suzy Lamplugh Trust, to help retail workers deal with threats. You can watch this here.

How can lone worker protection reduce the risks for retail lone workers?

Lone worker or personal safety devices are increasingly being adopted by retailers to help protect their employees from risk and to ensure that rapid emergency support is available at the press of a button.

But in addition to this, lone working solutions are also being implemented to demonstrate duty of care and to give retail staff peace of mind that someone will be there to help if necessary.

Deploying a SoloProtect Personal Safety Solution can deliver safety and wellbeing benefits to front-line retail workers, but it can also provide financial and operational benefits across the whole of the retail network.

The benefits of using a lone working solution in the retail sector

  • Give colleagues peace of mind, with a discreet personal safety device or lone working app and 24/7 alarm support via our dedicated Monitoring Centre
  • Ensure the fastest possible emergency response via our Red Alert functionality. Our specially trained operators will listen in to the situation, verify the seriousness of the incident and initiate an appropriate response – all in just over 30 seconds. And all this can happen at the discreet push of a button - without alerting the perpetrator.
  • Provide a means to document incidents, e.g. verbal abuse in-store, to inform training and best practice. This can also be used as credible evidence in any legal proceedings
  • Deliver protection against slips, trips and falls with incapacitation (or man-down) detection
  • Get up to date location information to inform operational decisions around redeployment of staff and whether a job, e.g. a delivery, has been completed
  • Better protect your retail stock and the security of high-value items by equipping staff to raise a Red Alert emergency alarm without alerting shoplifters
  • Deliver solution usage reports to key stakeholders, reflected across your organisation's department structure
  • Receive up to date, and credible information regarding the working status of your retail employees across a team or group
  • Ensure greater visibility of mobile personnel
  • Demonstrate compliance with health and safety policies and procedures.

Retail lone worker case studies

We continue to work with a significant number of UK retail businesses and, with a range of lone worker alarms and a mobile app to choose from, you can mix and match to suit the needs of your retail business.

McColls logo"McColl’s is a company that takes the health and safety of its employees extremely seriously. The SoloProtect ID has undoubtedly helped our staff feel safer, they know they can quickly raise an alarm if their safety was ever compromised. This has given our staff the confidence and peace of mind to carry out their tasks when working alone." 
Corporate Health and Safety Manager at McColl’s

You can read the full McColl's case study here.

John LewisCommenting following an incident where a John Lewis driver became stranded as a result of failed electrics, Project Implementation Manager for John Lewis said: "It’s hugely important to us to have precautions in place to protect all our staff and this incident is a reminder of the dangers involved in lone working. We believe in being proactive when it comes to the health and wellbeing of our employees and it’s paid off; by deploying a SoloProtect lone worker solution we’ve ensured a potentially serious situation was resolved without incident."

You can read the full John Lewis case study here.

personal safety solutions for retail workers

Guide to Personal Safety Solutions for Retail Workers

Download our short guide which explains the risks retail workers regularly face, how the SoloProtect solution can help you to manage those risks, and the operational benefits for managers and those working in loss prevention.

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