First time job seekers are not thinking about workplace violence and the dangers they could face in the retail industry environment.
Do you remember all the fear around your first job?  There was enough to worry about without considering that your life could be in danger at work. But today job seekers might well pause for a moment and realize that today’s retail industry is full of horror stories about retail employees being subjected to threatening behavior, physical harm and even death: all because they were doing their job.

So what makes the retail industry a probable place for workplace violence?

  • The exchange of money
  • Solo work
  • Isolated work locations
  • The sale of alcohol
  • Poorly lit retail stores and adjacent parking areas
  • High turnover rates of staff which minimizes the training provided to them. (Retail employees require training on to how to recognize and respond to hostile and potentially aggressive behavior.)

3 Of the Most Potentially Threatening Retail Industry Jobs

Gas stations
Isn’t this where young Grant De Patie lost his life back on March 8th 2005, just outside Vancouver, BC Canada.  Young Grant was dragged to his death behind a car trying to avoid paying for $12 worth of fuel. British Columbia has now joined a host of regions in North America where customers are required to pre-pay for fuel as a result.
Liquor Stores
We often hear of cities trying to reduce acts of violence by limiting the amount of time that liquor stores are open. Vancouver did this is in 2011 as the city prepared for the Vancouver Canucks to play Game 6 of their Stanley Cup.  The headlines focused on the problems that are created outside the liquor stores by intoxicated patrons, but what about the employees who were on the inside of the store? 
Convenience Stores
These are those ultra-handy retail places in locations just where you want them to be, and open 24 hours a day. We appreciate the convenience. They tend though, to run on tight bottom lines and minimal staffing. This results in little room for extensive training programs and technical security features.  Both the training and security are designed to provide the employees with confidence and a sense of comfort that their well being and safety are foremost in the company’s focus.

Your Morning Coffee Could be A Danger Zone

Although the top three spots mentioned above are certainly hot spots for violence in the retail environment, it’s not limited to your quick stops. What about your morning cup of java and a newspaper or Ipad? On May 31st, 2012 tragedy struck a Seattle cafe, the Cafe’ Racer, when a regular patron violently assaulted and murdered five customers.  

 LuluLemon Not Always A Yoga Place for Peace

In Bethesda, Maryland, Brittany Norwood beat her co-worker, Jayna Murray to death after being accused by her of stealing items of clothing from the Lulu lemon store where they both worked. 

Training is a Critical Component for Workplace Violence Prevention

Workplace Violence training within the retail industry is critical for everyone: employers, employees and customers alike.  An effective training program must include:

  • Management commitment and employee engagement
  • Workplace Analysis & Risk Assessments
  • Hazard Prevention and Control 
  • Safety Awareness Training

It should be noted that this is just the start and the more comprehensive and consistent the elements of the program are the more effective and lasting the results will be.