Look before you sweep

20Oct11

Although relatively few retail stores have more than one floor, that type of configuration is quite common in bigger cities. I can think of several examples here in Chicago, and they vary in terms of whether they use elevators, escalators or plain old staircases to help people reach the additional floors.

A recent experience emphasized some of the unique challenges of a multi-floor design. While my wife and I were walking up the stairs in a two floor grocer, a clueless employee was sweeping the staircase. We paid special attention to where the employee was working and chose the same route that other customers were using. Despite this, the idiotic staff member managed to hit my wife with the broom as she tried to pass by. Luckily, nobody was hurt, but the situation was clearly ripe for disaster.

The takeaways here are obvious. If you’re cleaning a busy staircase, don’t do it in the middle of the day. Put up suitable barricades or cones to indicate where it’s safe to walk. And always look in both directions to make sure that the path is clear of customers and other employees. I imagine there are broader safety guidelines that cover this type of thing, but if the inept sweeping we observed is any indication, the employees on the floor could use all the reminders they can get.



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