Workplace Safety Tips - increasing personal safety in the workplace by reducing the risk of bank & store robberies.
Two gunmen bound both employees at a Hoboken NJ video store and demanded the combination to the safe. The first employee thought he was being clever by giving them a false code, which, of course, didn't work – so the robbers began kicking him. The other employee then gave them the true code.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH - see link below) recommends improving workplace safety by:
• Using locked drop safes, carrying small amounts of cash and posting signs that limited cash is available.
• Physically separating workers from customers, clients and the general public.
• Making high-risk areas visible to more people and installing good external lighting.
• Addressing the number of entrances and exits, the ease with which non-employees can gain access to work areas because doors are unlocked and the number of areas where potential attackers can hide.
• Using CCTV, silent alarms, two-way mirrors, card-key access systems, panic-bar doors locked from the outside only.
Workplace safety for store-owners:
• Keep your windows free of ads and merchandise so passersby and police can easily see in.
• Keep a spare key hidden in your storeroom or cooler (in case robbers lock employees in there).
• Install a silent hold-up alarm system, and instruct employees to use it.
• Robbers are often past employees. Carefully screen all new hires (with photo ID) and run a background check with police. This will help stop your employees from robbing you in the future.
• Use prearranged signals to alert other employees that a robbery is taking place. Have a plan and rehearse it once each month.
• Arguing or becoming belligerent with the robber will upset him. Do not try to be a hero. Just because you don't see a weapon doesn't mean he doesn't have one. By attempting to subdue him, you escalate violence and risk to you and others.
• If you're confronted by a robbery in a bank or store, avoid eye contact, and say you are reaching for your money – then move slowly! Give up your money without stalling or spooking them.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says that having more than one clerk at night increases safety, but the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH - see link below) says that having more than one clerk increases the homicide rate. The conflicting research has multiple co-variables that include the number of criminals involved, their collective mindset (age, experience, anxiety level, degree of drug withdrawal, etc.), volume of current customer traffic, neighborhood location, and so on.Research at the University of North Carolina found certain steps reduced the odds of a homicide in retail stores by 30-70 percent. The greatest benefit came from keeping doors closed at all times and having more than one person working at night. The most effective equipment was bright lighting. Hiring security guards does some good, but other changes such as surveillance cameras, signs that a store keeps limited cash on hand and improved visibility of a work area from outside didn't appear to help prevent robbery-related slayings. Nevertheless:
In addition to having real surveillance cameras, store-owners can have a phony VCR and change the "tape" daily. That will fool employees – who sometimes set up robberies – they won't know that the real tape is hidden elsewhere. If a robber demands the videotape, the employee hands over a blank one.
Use two people to open and close your business. Upon opening, one person should remain outside while the other enters, checks for an intruder, and then gives the all-clear signal. Upon closing, one person should remain inside while the other exits, checks for an ambush, and then gives the all-clear signal. Always enter or exit by the more visible front door.
• Go to Occupational Safety and Health Administration - OSHA to get OSHA products, advice, file a complaint, or report a problem.
• The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has online videos of workplace safety strategies at NIOSH - Violence on the Job.