Our research has found worrying gaps in the safety advice being offered by DIY stores, especially when selling chainsaws and lawnmowers. But is it the responsibility of shop floor staff to tell us how to use them safely?
When shopping for everyday items like food and clothes, I don’t usually ask for a lot from shop floor staff.
In the supermarket it’s enough if they can point me in the right direction of the Marmite – and elsewhere I often find myself deflecting offers of help with the standard ‘No thanks, I’m just looking’.
But when shopping for a higher-priced item – especially one I know little about – I would definitely appreciate some tailored advice. And when it comes to potentially dangerous products, the very least I would expect is some decent safety advice, even if the staff didn’t know all the details of each product.
Shop flaw advice
Our latest investigation into the advice offered in DIY stores found that some staff didn’t seem to have a clue about safety. When selling chainsaws, six of the 18 stores we visited failed to advise us on using goggles and gloves – the most basic safety equipment.
But is it the staff’s responsibility to be dishing out this kind of safety advice? It would certainly be useful if they did – and the results of our investigation are now with the training departments of both Homebase and B&Q. We hope this will lead to them putting more emphasis on safety in their training so that staff can give at least basic safety advice.
The most crucial thing however, is that they stop giving out bad – and potentially dangerous – advice as we saw in some stores. One member of staff told us not to bother with chainsaw safety equipment, saying ‘I wouldn’t use it’ and several others told us that a chainsaw would be fine to use on shrubbery – when actually this could be particularly dangerous.
This is our third investigation to uncover whether shop floor staff know what they are talking about. We’ve previously found staff in major electrical stores baffled by basic questions and offering variable advice in mobile phone shops.
We are always keen to hear about your experiences of advice on the shop floor. Where have you been impressed – or let down – by how much the staff knew about the products they were selling?