Staples’s Wayne-Based Safety Guru Bob Risk: Most Businesses Are Not Prepared for Emergencies

Yes, his last name is Risk. And here are four tips for reducing yours.


Careful, people of Wayne. You may be putting yourself at risk!  Is your town unsafe?

It would appear to be the case. Especially if all you did for a living was consider safety. And that’s the dilemma faced by Bob Risk. He’s the national safety, health and wellness manager at Staples (a client of mine). Poor Bob. And no, in case you were wondering, he didn’t earn that position just because of his name. He has decades of experience selling safety-related products and services. And everywhere he looks he sees safety concerns. Even in beautiful Wayne, which also happens to be his beloved hometown of more than 30 years.

“I walk up North Wayne Avenue and see business owners who I’ve known for years who just don’t really understand all the hazards they face,” Risk recently told me. “It concerns me.”

Are we in danger by shopping and eating there? No, not really. But Wayne is no different than anywhere else.

According to a new survey from Staples to commemorate National Safety Month, “Only half of employees believe their workplaces are prepared for a severe emergency and nearly two-thirds of those polled said recent natural disasters have not led to their employers reassessing company safety plans.” The survey also revealed that “in the past six months nearly half of businesses have closed [at some point] due to severe weather, costing the economy nearly $50 billion in lost productivity.”

So it’s not just Wayne, Pa. Most businesses are not practicing the best in safety. And, according to Risk, they’re all taking a big … ahem … risk. He has these suggestions for his neighbors.

  1. Have a comprehensive disaster plan. “Businesses in general, especially small companies, spend time and effort and money doing everything but preparing for the things they have no control over,” Risk complained. “We are fortunate where we live, but we still get our share of tornadoes and hurricanes like Sandy.” Every business, regardless of its size, should have a plan for what occurs if the power goes out or the business is put out of commission due to storms, floods or other potential disasters that could be caused by the irate Main Liners who fight over parking spots and tables on a Saturday night.
  2. Stock up. Do you have the right supplies in your business. Probably not. But there’s great news for you. Bob Risk can sell you what you need. That’s because Risk works for Staples (and why he agreed to my interview, I’m sure). His job is to consult with companies on the best safety practices and then … sell them safety products. Surprise! But someone’s got to do it. And every business should be buying. “You’d be surprised how many stores and even restaurants lack the most basic supplies for first aid,” says Risk. Risk (and yes, just to remind you his name really is “Risk” and yes, he’s in charge of “safety” and yes, it’s OK to chuckle every time you’re reading his name in this blog) adds, “If you’re running a business you have to make sure you’ve got the right supplies to help customers suffering from a cut, a sprained ankle, or even a heart attack.”
  3. Get trained. The other safety area where most businesses fail, according to Risk, is training. If someone has a heart attack in a Wayne restaurant on a Saturday night (a not uncommon occurrence, particularly after finding out you just spent $8 for a “specialty” beer that tastes pretty much like a Miller Lite) then who’s trained to respond? Who calls for help? Other than offering a coupon for a return visit (although not on the weekend of course – we’re trying to make a living here, OK?) how else do you treat that customer and make them comfortable until emergency help arrives? According to Risk, too few business owners take the time to train their employees to handle such occurrences.
  4. Check the rules. In 2014 America it’s all about big government. And in America there’s the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA. And OSHA’s got rules.  You are required to post safety regulations for your employees and be in compliance with OSHA’s rules. Depending on the business you’re in, you may very well have other safety requirements with which you must be in compliance.

So bad news Wayne proprietors: According to the guy in charge of safety at Staples, you’re not as safe as you could be. Comply. Do the right thing. Why “risk” a disaster? Ha ha.

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