As a shop owner, your responsibilities regarding the safety of your premises are similar to the duties of a board director: The buck stops with you. In a climate of uncertainty, when many retail operators don’t even know when and for how long they will be open, the last thing you need to worry about is whether you are compliant with safety regulations. But the truth is that many shop owners are exposing themselves to unnecessary risk—not to mention effort and expense—by not having a reliable compliance system in place.
For many retailers, it is not financially feasible to have a full-time health and safety or compliance individual on the team. So, if you don’t have someone who is pro-active on the shop floor every day managing safety and compliance, how do you keep it front and centre in your employee’s minds?
In this article, we take you through the compliance landscape for retailers and present a solution to the challenges you face as a responsible shop owner.
What are your obligations as a retail operator?
Depending on which area of the retail sector you operate in, you are obliged to comply with a range of regulations, which are enforced by government agencies including:
- The Health & Safety Authority (HSA)
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI)
Here, we bring you through some of your obligations as a retail operator as they apply to each of these agencies:
With more than 270, 000 people working in it, the retail sector is Ireland’s biggest employer. It is not considered a particularly high-risk industry, but accidents happen and generate significant costs for your business. Hazards you must identify and control in your retail setting relate to:
The HSA enforces health and safety across the retail sector, whether you are a major distribution centre or a corner shop. Its inspectors may visit your premises to monitor compliance with the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 (the 2005 Act), the Chemicals Act 2008 and other relevant legislation. They are looking for evidence of proper safety and health management, specifically:
- Evidence that you have prepared and implemented a safety statement under Section 20 of the 2005 Act
- Workplace-specific risk assessments in accordance with Section 19 of the 2005 Act
- Any other relevant safety documentation that may be required by the Chemicals Act 2008 and other health and safety legislation
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for safeguarding and enhancing the environment as a valuable asset for the Irish population. Part of this role involves implementing regulation and environmental compliance systems that help the environment and targeting those who don’t comply.
One area the EPA monitors closely is the environmentally sound management of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE). If you are a retailer of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) and/or batteries, you must register with either a compliance scheme (WEEE Ireland or ERP Ireland) or with your local authority and display relevant notices. You are also required to take back WEEE free of charge and keep records relating to quantities of WEEE taken back, stored and removed from your retail outlet.
If your retail outlet sells food, you must comply with a raft of legislation relating to food hygiene and safety. Whether you have a large commercial premises or a mobile food stall, you are required to follow the rules set out in the food hygiene legislation (Regulation 852/2004/EC). These cover:
- premises layout
- temperature control
- HACCP (Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Point)
- personal hygiene
The FSAI appoints authorised officers to enforce food safety legislation across the country. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland Act, 1998 contains enforcement provisions, on top of other powers to prosecute that are designed to deal with situations posing a risk to public health.
The Challenges of Compliance as a Retail Operator
We’ve given you a snapshot of some of your obligations with respect to just three authorities. Depending on your specialty, you may face a plethora of other restrictions. It’s difficult to keep track of your compliance obligations as a retailer, especially because, as the shop owner, you face ultimate responsibility if anything goes wrong. Here are some of the concerns shop owners face with regard to compliance:
- Paper-based compliance systems are cumbersome and time-consuming. Not only do you have to print off forms, fill them out and get them signed, you also have to devise a filing system to ensure you can retrieve them instantly if you need them.
- If you rely on a series of spreadsheets to record your compliance, you have no real proof that the checks were carried out. An inspector may challenge your compliance without evidence of the date and time of checks.
- Not having a comprehensive compliance system in place leaves you in a constant state of worry about the safety of your customers.
- Your service providers may not be on top of their compliance requirements, leaving it up to you to push them to get tests and inspections completed before their certificates expire.
- You may not be notified if a check or test was not carried out.
- You never know when the HSA, EPA, or FSAI may turn up for an inspection, and it’s difficult to remain in a constant state of readiness.
- If you own multiple retail outlets, how can you standardise your processes across your businesses?
- Keeping on top of routine checks is stressful and means you are firefighting every day to ensure those checks are being carried out consistently and in real time.
What Can You Do?
Ensuring you are retail premises complies with all the required regulation can be stressful, but there is a solution. With a centralised system that offers a dashboard for complete oversight of all your documentation, you have the peace of mind that your retail operation is compliant, no matter how many outlets you have or how many inspections you face. Such a solution offers:
- Ease of installation and use
- Time- and date-stamped documentation
- Ability to upload documentation wherever you are
- Reports and audit trail
- Reminders when certs are about to expire
If this sounds like a solution that would make your retail life easier, contact us at TICCbox today. We will talk you through our integrated compliance solution and let you get on with running your business.