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New York State Senate passes Retail Worker Safety Act

11 Jun '24
3 min read
New York State Senate passes Retail Worker Safety Act
Pic: Adobe Stock


  • The New York State Senate passed the Retail Worker Safety Act, requiring corporate retail employers to implement violence prevention plans, train workers in de-escalation and active shooter scenarios, and install panic buttons.
  • Championed by RWDSU, this act aims to address the increasing retail violence and ensure a safer workplace for retail workers.
The New York State Senate has passed the Retail Worker Safety Act, following the passage of the coordinating bill in the Assembly. This landmark legislation mandates corporate retail employers to adopt comprehensive violence prevention plans, train workers in de-escalation and active shooter scenarios, and for large employers, install panic buttons throughout the workplace.

The Retail Worker Safety Act addresses the escalating issue of retail violence, which poses significant risks to frontline retail workers. Under the act, the New York State Department of Labor is required to develop a model risk assessment and training program focused on de-escalation tactics and active shooter scenarios. Employers with 10 or more workers must adopt this model or create their own, providing annual safety training for employees. Additionally, employers with 500 or more workers nationwide must install panic buttons in their stores, enabling workers to call for help effectively and safely.

The act has been vigorously championed by President Stuart Appelbaum and members of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), who have mobilised retail workers across New York State. They organised rallies and press conferences in cities such as New York City, Albany, and online via Zoom, advocating for the bill alongside Senator Jessica Ramos and Assembly member Karines Reyes, RWDSU said in a press release.

A survey conducted by RWDSU revealed alarming statistics. Over 80 per cent of respondents are concerned about the possibility of an active shooter entering their workplace. Nearly two-thirds experienced verbal harassment or intimidating conduct from a customer, co-worker, or manager within the past year. Only 7 per cent felt their employer had made workplace changes to improve safety following a violent incident. Nearly 75 per cent would feel safer with regular training on workplace safety, risk reduction, and response protocols during violent incidents.

Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), said: “Today’s passage of the Retail Worker Safety Act by the State Senate is a critical step towards common sense safety measures for retail workers across New York. When the bill is signed into law, basic protections will be provided for both workers and customers. Throughout this campaign, we have heard deeply troubling workers’ stories from all over the state—stories of violent crimes, senseless shootings and harassment.

“Workers in retail stores in New York should never have to experience anything like this. One thing is for certain, however: employers can and should do more to protect their employees. That’s why we’re championing this critical law, which requires that retail employers take full responsibility to protect their workers from violence.”

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (DP)

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