Last year, Business Insider reported on increasing violence against retail workers. The journalist cited the case of a Michigan Family Dollar security guard murdered by a customer for enforcing store policy.
If you work in the retail or customer service sector, learn more about these hazards and how you can protect yourself.
Scope of the problem
The BI article quoted a professor of crisis management and public safety at the University of Central Florida who said that rudeness and aggression toward hourly retail and service workers have reached a 30-year high. Employees report daily shouting and personal attacks by customers angry about mandates such as product purchase limits and lines as
Strategies for personal protection
Start by asking your managers for assistance when you encounter uncomfortable or aggressive customers. Request additional guidance and training about how to handle these situations. For example, should you call security or ask the customer to leave the store? Your location should have a policy for dealing with angry customers; consult your employee handbook or ask for help if unsure.
Experts recommend remaining calm, rather than reacting with anger or emotion and further escalating the situation. Always put your personal safety above your job duties and call law enforcement if a customer harms or threatens to harm you.
If you suffer an injury at your job as a result of violence by a customer or coworker, you can file a Minnesota workers’ compensation claim. This program covers medical expenses, lost wages and other costs resulting from workplace injuries and work-related illnesses.