As COVID-19 restrictions are gradually relaxed across the country and shops and shopping centres continue to get busier, it is important that our retail workers’ health and safety is appropriately addressed, and new measures are introduced to ensure workplaces are safe.
After several concerns were raised from members about returning to work in retail, we have been working with Safe Work Australia to introduce specific safety measures around fitting rooms.
We are happy to report that Safe Work Australia have adopted all of our suggested changes, including measures to prevent abuse and violence, such as amending returns policies and displaying signage that clearly states that violence and aggression will not be tolerated.
They have also included recommendations that address the process of handling unwanted garments and what is required of both customers and retail team members to ensure clothes can safely return to the shop floor.
Safe Work Australia’s steps for minimising the spread of infection in the changing rooms at your store include:
- if possible, rotating the staff member/s responsible for the change rooms and/or handling and returning clothes
- using only every second changing stall where there are multiple stalls in close proximity
- requiring customers who are queuing to use the change rooms to keep 1.5 metres apart. Put signs around the change room area and create wall or floor markings to identify the 1.5 metre distance. Staff could wear a badge as a visual reminder to each other and customers of the physical distancing requirements
- limiting the number of customers allowed in the changing area at a time so that physical distancing requirements can be met
- removing seating from in and around the changing rooms
- encouraging customers to have family and friends wait outside the changing room rather than go in with them
- putting in place hygiene steps before someone touches any clothing or footwear (for example providing hand sanitiser for customer use if possible and reminding customers to use it on entry or before they select goods to try on)
- requiring customers to re-hang unwanted clothes on hangers themselves and return to designated racks to be returned to the shop floor the next morning or 24 hours later.
- cleaning the hangers and the return rack, and
- managing the flow of customers into and out of the changing rooms to allow sufficient time for cleaning to take place on a regular basis. This includes cleaning and disinfecting frequent touch points such as door handles, hangers and hooks. Changing room curtains should be laundered if there is a chance they may have been contaminated. If curtains are made from a material that cannot easily be cleaned, there must be sufficient time given for the curtains to dry and the germs to become inactive.
Where change rooms are closed or measures impact customer access (e.g. longer wait times) information for customers of the new arrangements should be displayed at the store entrance and fitting rooms. Having clear information about the measures taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19 can help to manage and reduce customer frustration, stress or anxiety about any changes and may reduce the risk of customer aggression and violence towards workers.
- erect prominent signage at changing rooms to explain the measures in place to limit the spread of COVID-19
- display signage clearly setting out any amended returns policy so customers are immediately aware of the new arrangements in place to offset any inconvenience arising through new arrangements for accessing change rooms, and
- ensure signage clearly states that violence and aggression will not be tolerated.
It is important to remember that the risk of infection through contact with fabric or textiles in a retail store is very low and good hygiene and physical distancing is the most effective way to minimise the risk of infection.
We will be engaging with companies over the next few days to ensure they are referring to the Safe Work advice when implementing control measures in fitting rooms.
If you have any concerns or questions regarding fitting rooms and your health and safety at work, please get in contact with the SDA.