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Respect for Shopworkers Week takes place 13-19 November and looks to highlight rising incidents of abuse against retail staff.

To help store owners protect their staff, industry union USDAW has published advice to improve safety in the retail workplace.

· Be Prepared – Would you know what to do if you spot a shoplifter or credit card fraud, or if there is a robbery? Your employer should have procedures in place to deal with incidents when they happen.

· Physical Protection – Security measures, alarms, CCTV, protective barriers and panic buttons can all help. Staff need to know how to operate security systems provided.

· Training – Staff need to know what they are expected to do when an incident develops, how to follow safe working procedures and how to use security equipment properly.

· Cash Handling – Cash should be kept out of sight and not allowed to build up in the till.

· Banking – Where possible banking should be done by specialist security staff. It should not be done alone, on foot or by public transport. Staff who are expected to do it should be fully trained.

· Shoplifters – Over half of physical assaults are linked to attempted shoplifting. Employers should make sure all staff know what to do if they see a suspected shoplifter. The policy should make it clear that no-one should risk personal safety to protect property.

· Armed Robbery – Employers should train people to be prepared for armed robbery. Doing exactly what the robber tells you, not resisting, avoiding sudden movements and not raising the alarm until it is safe to do so should all be part of the policy.

· Lone Working – Working alone at high risk times, such as late at night, should be avoided. Where staff are expected to work alone, for example in a petrol kiosk, extra precautions should be taken.

· Reporting Incidents – Employers need to know exactly what risks their staff are exposed to. A reliable system for recording all incidents helps to build up the picture.

· Reviewing Procedures – To make sure that things are working properly, employers should review their procedures on a regular basis in consultation with the Union Health and Safety Reps.

It has also published a series of downloadable guides for retailers to help keep their staff safe and make customers aware of the campaign.