Following a vicious attack on a lone shop worker, LONEALERT’s Sales & Marketing Manager, Mat Colley, looks at the dangers facing those working in retail.
I can’t know for sure if the lone shop worker manning the Twickenham off-licence late at night had ever thought about the dangers he faced. What I do know, and what the police have confirmed, is that the horrific attack he sustained whilst simply trying to do his job has left him with mental scars that will take even longer to heal than the horrific physical wounds he received.
The worker, a man in his 40s, was ordered to open the store’s till by a hooded assailant before being repeatedly stabbed. Another attacker then ripped the turban he was wearing from his head.
Police have described the attack, which took place at 10pm as the man worked in the shop alone, as ‘vicious’ and said it is only through ‘pure luck’ that he was not more seriously injured.
In the world of retail, there are many roles that require workers to be on duty alone, especially in convenience stores or small shops such as the one the victim was working in.
Often operating with unsociable opening hours, those working at such convenience stores are exposed to a number of risks, with the potential for physical and verbal attacks increased by triggers such as refusing to serve alcohol, asking for ID or challenging thieves.
The 2017 Crime Report by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) estimates that over 13,000 incidents of violence occurred last year, with 39% of these resulting in some form of injury. A total of 72% of convenience store staff have been the victim of verbal abuse.
Figures released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) show that the rate of reported violence with injury has doubled, with 13 workers injured across the retail sector every day in 2017.
For those of you who have found yourself working alone behind a shop counter with a till filled with money, have you ever considered what procedures are in place to protect you should a yob burst in and demand you hand it over?
For those of you employing lone workers, have you done everything you can to ensure your staff are safe and know exactly how to get help should a situation occur?
Going to work should never be about life and death and it is vital that retail bosses provide their lone workers with the tools and training to ensure they can carry out their duties in a safe working environment.
With the vast range of lone worker protection devices and solutions now available, from mobile phone text-ins to discreet panic alarms that call for assistance in an instant, there is no excuse for employers failing to provide the Duty of Care their lone workers are entitled to by law.
The victim of the appalling Twickenham attack was simply doing his job in a place he should have felt safe and it could have happened at one of thousands of similar shops up and down the country.
The time is now to ensure your lone workers are protected. Don’t let them feel like they really are alone.
Link to the shop worker story: https://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/lone-shop-worker-repeatedly-stabbed-14536386