Companies that manufacture retail products are frequently challenged to differentiate themselves from their competitors. This differentiation can take place at the Point of Sale (POS) and is quite acute in the food and beverage industry. One way to differentiate at the POS is to erect product displays which garner attention from consumers. This is a common industry practice and has led to larger and taller in-store displays. An unfortunate effect of the battle for attention has been an increase in hazards and risks associated with these in-store displays of merchandise. In some cases, this has led to injury to merchandisers, store personnel and consumers.
This paper will focus on these hazards and how a cross-functional team was employed to help address them. The unique team incorporated structural engineering and a process-driven approach to mitigate these risks and hazards. Similar to the United States Military which frequently mixes personnel from the various branches (Army, Air Force, Navy, etc.), resulting in "purple" teams, the complexity of the task at hand required the use of personnel from various disciplines to address these safety risks and hazards.
In 2014, an incident occurred when an in-store product display collapsed onto one of their employees. This resulted in significant injury and a lost time accident for the employee. The ensuing post-review by the client revealed the extent of claims associated with in-store product displays and prompted them to review potential options to mitigate the risks and hazards associated with these displays. While the client was steadfast in the need to display their product using in-store displays, they nevertheless recognized that this practice could lead to potentially unsafe conditions. On the one hand, they didn't want to stifle the creativity of the personnel who take great pride in designing and erecting these in-store displays yet they also realized that reasonable steps could be helpful in mitigating the risks and hazards during the various phases of the in-store display lifecycle. This problem statement needed to be crisply articulated and used as a call to action.