CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Harris Teeter here is testing slip-resistant footwear at 20 of its Charlotte-area supermarkets in an effort to improve safety in some of its busiest, most accident-prone departments.
About 350 employees in the fresh-food departments, which include deli and bakery, are participating in the footwear test. These areas are very active, according to the retailer, with as many as 30 to 40 associates working at one time.
With the high volume of traffic and other variables such as animal fat falling to the floor, it's also the site of more incidents of slips and falls than other areas in the store, said Dan Helfrich, corporate manager of safety and environmental health for the 148-store retailer. Helfrich is a 35-year veteran in the work-safety field.
"We're very proactive [about safety]," he said. "What we're trying to do is reduce slips and falls."
The slip-resistant footwear, from Lehigh Safety Shoe Co., Endicott, N.Y., was offered to the employees in eight different styles, four for men and four for women. A shoe mobile visited the supermarkets participating in the test so employees could see the styles and determine shoe size requirements. The test began March 1 and is scheduled to continue through May.
The safety shoes cost between $33 and $62 per pair, and are purchased by employees through a payroll-deduction program. Helfrich said the cost of the slip-resistant shoes is taken out of the employee's paycheck over four pay periods.
He added that the safety-oriented program has received very positive feedback from employees but that it's too early to measure the program's success.
Helfrich said that surveys would be conducted throughout the test period to determine the reduction in slips and falls, as well as the employees' comfort level in the footwear.
If the test run is successful, Harris Teeter would consider rolling out the program to other stores, he said. The retailer has locations in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Virginia.