For Retailers: Common Sense Closing Procedures

Keeping your workplace and employees safe with effective closing time and banking procedures


Once the cash accounting is completed and it is time to make a bank deposit, employees should also pre-plan to perform this task in pairs to protect themselves and to reduce the opportunities for robbers to relieve them of the money. A bank bag is a juicy target for a thief, so the person carrying the bag should conceal it by hiding it in a pocketbook or a briefcase, slipping it into the waistband of slacks or a skirt and covering it with a coat or long shirt -- or even tucking it into a coffee-stained paper take-out bag.

If the bank is within walking distance, another employee follows the one carrying the bank bag and keeps an eye out for anything unusual, such as someone trailing or paying too much attention to the employee with the bag. Thieves can also work in pairs. One of them may distract the person with the bag by spilling something obvious, such as ketchup, on the person's clothing. While the bad guy is apologizing and trying to help clean up the mess -- really, while he's distracting the victim -- his partner steals the bank bag. If a scenario like this one should occur, the employee who's following can use a cell phone to call police.

If the bank is far enough away that the employee must drive there, the second employee should follow in another vehicle. Again, the idea is to keep an eye out for trouble and to call for help should anything go wrong.

IN THE EVENT OF TROUBLE

If a robbery should be attempted despite everyone's best efforts to prevent it, employees should be trained to keep their wits about them and adhere to a few basic procedures. The most important is, of course, to give robbers whatever they demand without arguing or fighting. No one's life or health is worth the cost of merchandise or cash.

Employees who are faced with the business end of a weapon are obviously under a great deal of stress. They should be trained not to volunteer additional information, such as saying something like, "There's more cash in the safe in the back. Do you want me to open it?" Instead, they would be better off trying to concentrate on memorizing a good description of the robber: observing the color of hair and eyes, any distinguishing marks or features, clothing and any accent the person might have, as well as a description of any vehicle used. Also, they should observe anything that the robbers touch, as it may be possible to collect fingerprint evidence.

The police should obviously be contacted as soon as possible. While awaiting their arrival, witnesses should be instructed to write down what happened quickly and without consulting one another. This information will be most accurate if it is given individually and as soon as possible.

WHY PROTECT WORKERS?

Many employers and managers will want to know why they should invest additional time or money to do more to protect workers. Aside from the moral responsibility to safeguard employees, there are excellent financial and legal reasons to do so as well. Injured employees, or the families of workers killed on the job, may seek compensation from an employer they feel did not adequately protect the worker. Lawsuits are time-consuming and expensive, and may result in hefty penalties, fines or damages assessed against the store.

OSHA addresses the issue of workplace violence under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. The extent of an employer's obligation to address workplace violence is governed by the General Duty Clause, which provides that "Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees."

A Sample Workplace Violence Prevention Program from OSHA can be found in the book "The Retail Manager's Guide to Crime and Loss Prevention: Protecting Your Business from Theft, Loss and Violence," which can be found at www.retailmanagersguide.com.