After a harrowing year of conflicts over toilet paper going viral, Woolworths has stepped up in its fight against abusive customers.
Woolworths has announced some of its staff will be wearing bodycams in a new trial to help reduce the level of abuse aimed at employees.
Reports of abuse inside Woolworths stores have risen twofold following the coronavirus outbreak, which saw a number of brawls over toilet paper and other reduced supplies break out between customers.
A study from the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association revealed a shocking 85 per cent of Woolworths staff have been the target of verbal, physical or sexual assault while at work.
The cameras will be only worn by senior supervisors, who will have the ability to turn the cameras on and off should they see an incident developing. Woolworths hopes the cameras will assist police in investigations following incidents in stores, and act as an extra deterrent for potential troublemakers.
The three-month trial is being implemented in 11 stores across NSW, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.
“We’re trialling team safety cameras in a small number of stores to see if they can help prevent assaults and abuse of our team members,” Woolworths director Rob Moffat told The Saturday Telegraph.
“This follows a doubling in reports of assaults in our stores in 2020.
“Nobody deserves to be abused at work, so it’s important we look at new measures to help keep our team members safe. These cameras are used widely in retail across the US and UK, and have been effective in reducing the rate of reported incidents.”
The supermarket giant will store the content on high security servers, with access limited to Woolworths security experts and law enforcement officials.
“The first weekend of the trial one of our members said they saw a significant reduction in the number of reportable incidents,” SDA NSW secretary Bernie Smith said.
“They said a couple of times someone appeared as though they would get abusive but their eyes went to the camera and then they stopped.”
“It gives me more confidence to do my job,” Employee Jasmine Sakoua says.“It does make me feel frustrated and upset because at the end of the day, we’re just here to serve customers.”
“It’s not fair that customers do this to us. Sometimes they don’t understand that we are just like them.”
Cameras will be trialled at the following stores:
Victoria: Abbotsford, Millers Junction, St Albans, Sunshine Market Place and Hoppers Crossing
NSW: Kempsey, Berala and Rosehill
SA: Rundle Mall
Queensland: Redbank Plains