Safety for Employees and Visitors During Office/Store Renovation

Most business owners know how important a well-furnished, well-lit business space. Shops that have not had a face-lift since they opened fifteen years ago look shopworn. A shabby rundown business space does not instill faith in your business. Renovations are as simple as new flooring and furniture to a total facelift including the previous two items and new lighting, new workspace layouts, new display areas and more.


Many stores and office based businesses choose to stay open during renovations to keep cash flow streaming in, however, doing renovations while open presents new temporary hazards to workers and visitors. To prevent accidents design a safety plan for the renovation.


Safety Plan

The safety plan must include, and the business must enforce, that the renovation team follows OSHA and other regulatory body standards. The safety plan needs completion before construction begins along with the choice of the people who check it, the project owner, general contractor or a third-party firm.


Even when following regulatory rules and guidelines most construction work taking place in occupied areas creates debris, dust and odors that affect workers, and customers or clients in a negative and disruptive way. Write into your contract for construction that barriers and other measures will go into place that cuts these noxious odors and dust that can cause illness or aggravate chronic health problems such as asthma or contact dermatitis. The plan needs to recognize that even work done while the business is not open has an effect on the indoor air quality (AIQ).


Making Room

One of the first steps to take is to get rid of clutter and only have things close by that are indispensable. For many businesses, the first step is the hardest. Store rooms are already overcrowded and jamming them full of stuff workers need on a daily basis is a hardship. Stacking things high up on shelves and having cluttered aisles can lead to accidents, such as injuries from falling items or slip and fall accidents occurring from aisles that are not easily maneuvered through.


The good news is that you have the opportunity to fix this temporary storage problem and the “keep it, it might be useful someday” syndrome simultaneously.


You need two things to do these tasks. A storage pod available from many moving companies and a dumpster large enough to haul your waste to the local garbage recycling plant. As you make room for the stuff your employees use daily, take the things out of the storeroom that you seasonally, or records you need to keep for a certain number of years. Anything you haven’t used for a predetermined number of years, say three, automatically gets trashed. Other items (things used at least once in three years) managers decide what goes and what stays.


Depending on the size of your land, many pod companies rent temporary workspace from small two-room office pods to full-size modular temporary business space.


Plan Safety Standards

Safety Plans are usually nothing more than guides, an effective plan needs safety standards written into them or attached to them as part of the plan. Items you include are:


·         Posted layouts or plan-o-grams in each section need upgrading including an evacuation route.

·         Communicate renovation dates and plans with merchandise vendors reminding them to work safely and neatly.

·         Make sure that new fixtures and display are on site and ready for installing in each section per your planogram or reset guide – if possible preinstall them.

·         Floor sweeps – every hour during renovation

·         Minimize the use of extension cords stretched across the sales floor or office doorways and aisles.

·         Close aisles being renovated as well as aisles where merchandise moves in and out of the aisle is taking place

·         Provide protective items for use by your employees or reset team.

·         Remember customers/clients are at risk for three primary reasons

·         Customers/clients include more vulnerable groups of people – children and the elderly.

·         Customers/clients expect your place of business is, warning signs help alert them to hazards.

·         Customers/clients, unlike employees, have a low safety awareness and do not receive any safety training that employees do get.


Create and follow a comprehensive safety plan and clients, customers and employees can transition to the construction period and thereafter.


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