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Keep doors, windows, trap doors and anything else shut

Now we mean this in the nicest possible way, but we would like you to keep it shut.

Here is one reason to keep it shut. A shop keeper was restocking the shelves in between serving his customers. This particular shop’s stockroom is located in the cellar and the only access to it is via a trap door which is next to the alcohol shelving. After a couple of trips up and down the cellar stairs and restocking the shelves, a customer entered the shop.

The shop keeper stopped what he was doing to help serve the customer, leaving the trap door open. It was clearly open and there was a small visible barrier next to it, so the shop keeper didn’t mention it to the customer. The next thing he knew, the customer was nowhere to be seen. Confused, he scanned the shop looking for them. He suddenly heard a faint groaning noise, and in a moment of terrifying realisation, dashed over to the trap door to see the customer collapsed beneath the hatch.

The customer successfully prosecuted the shop keeper with a public liability claim. But things could have been a lot different if he’d just kept it shut… the trap door that is.

However, it’s not just trap doors that can be a problem. We have put together a list of things you should remember to keep shut in your shop.

1. Fire doors

We have fire doors for a reason; to help stop the spread of fire throughout a building. If you leave them open, it defeats the purpose of having them in the first place. Don’t keep fire doors propped open, keep them shut.

2. Stockroom doors

You may have an open-door policy but that does not extend to members of the public who decide to help themselves to your stock. It takes seconds for someone to wonder in and take something, so if you have an access door to a storeroom or office at the back of your shop, keep it shut.

3. Trap doors

As you have learnt from the example above, trap doors can be hazardous if left open. At The Retail Mutual we have dealt with more than a handful of claims where members of the public have disappeared down hatches, even with signs and barriers in place. You would be surprised by the number of people who are oblivious to these danger and warning signs. Be sensible and, where possible, only access trap doors when the store is closed to the public.

4. Tills (but remember to leave them open at night)

This might seem obvious but keep tills, cash boxes and safes shut. That said, when your shop is closed it’s good practice to keep your till draw open to show that there is no money inside it.

5. Shutters and gantries – anything that is lockable

Do you have security shutters, lockable gantries or lockable display cabinets? Keep them shut and keep them locked. You would be surprised at how many businesses have shutters and lockable cabinets but don’t actually use them. These act as an extra deterrent to slow down or even stop criminals breaking in and stealing your stock. They are there for a reason, so use them.

6. Van or car doors

When you’re at the cash and carry and have loaded your newly purchased stock into your van or car, make sure you don’t leave it unattended. If you do need to leave your vehicle for any reason, make sure your doors (and glove box) are shut and locked. You might only be gone for moment, but it could cost you a lot more in the long run.

7. Bins

Rubbish, we hear you say, but it’s true. Your outside bins should be kept shut and ideally be at least three metres away from your shop. Bins overflowing with rubbish with the lid left open could attract arsonists or other people looking to cause vandalism, plus it doesn’t make for a welcoming sight if your bins are on display.

These are just a few things we would like you to keep shut. It might be inconvenient and cost you a bit of time but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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