Retail areas are designed to be attractive to customers; they’re often the first part of dive businesses that customers see. They also tend to be high-traffic areas. Compared to other areas of dive businesses, which may have obvious hazards, retail areas may be perceived as safer. While this may be true in some ways, it doesn’t mean that the retail section of a dive business is free of risk or hazards. Now more than ever, public spaces involve some degree of risk. Here are some recommendations for improving safety in areas of your business that customers frequent.
Before you begin your assessment, download the DAN Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment Guide. This comprehensive guide provides detailed explanations of the most common risks dive businesses face. The digital edition of this guide is available for download at no cost, and the section dedicated to retail shop operations begins on page 35.
Ventilation & Temperature
Providing customers with a comfortable environment to shop around in is important. If you’re located in a tropical environment, it’s important to keep your retail area cool, well-ventilated and ideally climate-controlled, which may require a powerful air conditioning system. Keeping your shop climate controlled will help preserve the integrity of your products, prevent your retail area from becoming stuffy and unpleasant for customers and prevent mold and mildew growth, which is a major deterrent for potential customers. Mold and mildew can also present a serious health hazard to customers and staff.
Cleanliness & Organization
Having a clean and easy-to-navigate shop is not only enticing to customers, it makes things safer for everyone. Decluttering your dive shop can significantly reduce the risks your employees and customers face, and it eliminates hazards that can cause injuries. One of the easiest ways to eliminate tripping hazards is to ensure your retail space has clean and unobstructed walkways. To prevent people from being hit by falling objects, carefully consider what you put into overhead storage, and keep it properly secured.
One hazard that is common in dive shops is wet floors. Keeping the floor clean and dry is paramount to keeping your customers safe from nasty slips and falls. To prevent these injuries and more, consider placing non-slip mats throughout your store and installing non-slip flooring.
Maintaining a clean an organized area will not only protect staff and customers from injury but will show that you value cleanliness, organization and safety.
Emergency Exit Accessibility
In a shop with a fully stocked retail area, there may be shelves and racks to work around. You need to make sure that there would be no difficulty evacuating a busy shop full of people in a timely manner in the event of an emergency. Do a walk-through of your operation and note areas that are often busy or may become congested. Could everyone make an easy exit from these areas if your shop was full and a fire broke out or a cylinder exploded? It may be necessary to do some reorganization to facilitate an easy and timely emergency evacuation. To help reduce confusion in an emergency, place clearly visible exit signs in useful locations.
Effective fire-control procedures and firefighting equipment are essential for protecting customers, staff and valuable inventory. The best way to protect your dive shop from fires is to prevent them from ever happening. To limit the threat to your business from fires that can’t be prevented, install fire alarms, keep fire extinguishers in key positions and train your staff to use them. Also, be sure to conduct regular assessments of your fire extinguishers to ensure that they are in working order. According to OSHA [29 CFR 1910.157(e)(2), visual inspections must be conducted on your fire extinguishers once per month and maintenance inspections once per year, so consider adding this to your maintenance schedule or emergency action plans. Proper training and functioning firefighting equipment are critical to reducing damage and saving lives in the event of a fire.
While preventative actions like cleaning up your retail area or assessing your electrical wiring as a potential ignition source may not seem like pressing considerations, it is important to do whatever you can to prevent accidents before they happen, especially when hazards can be eliminated quickly and easily. If business is slow or you are currently closed, use this opportunity to conduct a thorough assessment of safety considerations in your retail shop. For further information, consult DAN’s HIRA Guide.