One of the biggest names in forecourt health and safety has launched a risk assessment service for convenience stores.

Suresite Group, which has been at the forefront of petrol station risk assessment since 1994, has identified convenience stores as being particularly at risk of H&S breaches.

Neil Simms, the group’s health and safety manager, said that many convenience store owners did not fully understand their responsibilities under health and safety law, especially the implications of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

He highlighted, in particular, the responsibilities employers have towards groups at risk including temporary workers, young people and new and expectant mothers.

He added that many owners greatly underestimated the potential for risk in their workplace.

According to the most recent Labour Force Survey (2015/16-2017/18), the combined injury and illness rate in retail is only 1.5% lower than in construction (4.7% per annum compared with 6.2%).

"Convenience store owners have a duty of care not only towards their staff, but to customers, contractors and any suppliers on site," he said.

"While there is no legal requirement to bring in an external risk assessor, it can provide the retailer with the confidence that their risk management is being supported while allowing them to go about their day-to-day duties.

"While only business owners with five or more employees are obliged to record the significant findings of a risk assessment, smaller businesses will find it brings them peace of mind, knowing they are in line with best practice."

A risk assessment takes a couple of hours to complete via a local assessor and is carried out during business hours without causing disruption. A further review assessment is recommended after 12 months, or when a business undergoes a significant change.

In 2017, a major retailer was fined £400,000 after a pensioner slipped on water leaking from a chiller cabinet at a store in Truro, Cornwall, hitting his head on the floor and later dying in hospital.

And in 2015, the owners of an independent Slough convenience store were ordered to pay £96,000 in penalties after an employee fell down an open lift shaft.