Minimising the risk to staff

07 March, 2008

Q I'm due to open an off-licence on the edge of a city centre next month, in an area that has had past problems with robbery. What procedures can I put in place to protect staff?


The Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) has a set of guidelines to promote shop worker safety. It says employers should ensure that they have a system for reporting all incidents, including threats or intimidation and incidents which are work-related but happen outside work, for example, when travelling to or from work.

Usdaw advises:

l??Retailing employers' risk assessments, required under health and safety law, should cover the issue of violence. Where late working causes particular problems, the risk assessment should recognise this

l??Employers should provide well-lit access to stores for staff who are opening or closing, or who have to enter or leave the store during the night.

l??Car parks should be well lit at all times that staff are expected to use them. Where possible, night staff should be allowed to park where there is easy access to the store and where their cars can be monitored by security staff. Bushes, shrubs and other obstructions which may provide a hiding place for assailants should be removed

l??If there are problems with public transport for night staff or staff who finish late then the employer should lay on


l??In high-risk areas, arrangements should be made to make sure individual workers are not expected to open or close stores on their own. Staff who have to leave the store during the night should be escorted to their transport home. Staff who are expected to open or close stores should be trained so they know what to do if they see someone suspicious hanging about

l??Where possible, staff should not be expected to work on their own at high-risk times, for example in late-opening stores, off-licences or petrol filling stations. If it cannot be avoided then extra precautions will be needed to make sure that they are protected and can call for assistance in an emergency.

l??Staff who are keyholders should be trained in what to do in a call-out and should not be expected to enter the store on their own.


My shop is licensed to trade until the early hours of the morning. How should I deal with the start of British Summertime on March 30?


Jeremy Allen of licensing lawyers Poppleston Allen advises: "If you're normally licensed to trade until 2am, then on the face of it you have a problem: 1am immediately becomes 2am and you are obliged to close unless there is something in your licence which deals with this particular point.

"All the licences we converted include a special provision to the effect that British Summertime should be ignored for the purposes of calculating the hours the premises traded. On this basis, 1am remained 1am for the purpose of the licence only. The premises could effectively trade until the new 3am.

"Effectively, if there is nothing in your licence to that effect, you are obliged to close one hour early.

"This can obviously cause problems. You may have arranged transport home at the old 2am which will be the new 3am. If you're not sure, I suggest that you check your licence. If it's not mentioned you may want to put in a rapid application to vary or alternatively use a temporary event notice."

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