Restore Safety Focus: Loading Purchases for Customers

Restore Safety Focus: Loading Purchases for Customers
Posted on in Featured, ReStores, Safety Managers

Print This Post Print This Post

A hot topic among affiliates is the question of whether to load purchases for customers who’ve made large purchases from the ReStore.  At the forefront of the debate is the concern over potential for injury/liability, and how it should be handled from a customer service standpoint.

While the majority of instances where assistance is given result in a happy customer and nothing else to report, unfortunately, the risk of bodily injury, as well as damage to the customer’s vehicle, is present anytime a purchase is loaded..  In fact, over the years, the Habitat Affiliate Insurance Program has received several claims in this area..

Although you may not be able to totally eliminate all risk, your ReStore can minimize, or at least reduce, the chance of an incident occurring, while also fostering a safe environment  and placing priority on the customer’s needs.  your ReStore’s  staff* is sufficiently trained on proper lifting and loading techniques for large items.  In addition, ensure your employees have the proper safety equipment for the job, such as thick gloves and sturdy boots.  When accomplished without incident, loading assistance can make a great impression from a customer service standpoint.

*Avoid using clerical staff for loading, as this may affect their Workers Comp. classification.

Alternatively, if your ReStore does not have staff available to assist with loading, train your existing team on how to politely decline the customer’s request with a thorough explanation.  In addition, consider the following options:

  • Hold the customer’s purchase for a few days AFTER the item has been paid for in full. This isn’t always the best option, especially if you have a very small ReStore with high donation intake, but it will help in reducing injury and liability risk.
  • Have the names and numbers of vetted delivery companies to whom you could outsource the loading and delivery for your customers.
  • Have the names and numbers of truck rental places if a customer needs a large vehicle to load their purchase correctly.
  • Always have rope, straps, ties, red flags, etc. for customers to use (or purchase) if they need equipment to secure their purchase.
  • Use cardboard or other packing material as a cushion to avoid damage.

Keep in mind that despite your best efforts or polite declination of assistance, there is still the possibility an incident may occur and a customer will make a claim against Habitat.  In the event of such a scenario, please be aware you are required under your insurance policy to report the occurrence to your insurance carrier (ACE) in a timely manner.  This generally means reporting as soon as you become aware of an incident – even if it initially appears that the individual involved is not injured  or there is no significant property damage.  Failure to do so could, at a minimum, have a detrimental effect on the investigation of the claim, and in some cases, result in a denial of coverage.

We appreciate your focus on safety at your ReStore, and in particular reducing the risk of injuries and/or property damage. For free training materials on the proper lifting and loading techniques, along  with other safety related topics,  see the Habitat affiliate website,

Should you have any comments or questions regarding this topic or future ReStore topics of interest, we welcome your input.  Please contact the Habitat for Humanity Affiliate Insurance Program – phone #888-553-9002/email:; or Eric Allen, HFHI ReStore Development Consultant – phone #1-800-HABITAT, ext. 5050/email:

comments powered by Disqus

Sorry, that passcode is incorrect.


Online Training Course Instructions

Read this entirely before proceeding to a training course.

Access Code: W8NAEBTG

Recommended Courses

  • You are Exposed: General Affiliate Safety
  • Fall Safety
  • ReStore Safety & Loss Control
  • Volunteering on a Habitat for Humanity Job Site

Take Training Course Now
  • After reading these instructions in their entirety, click on Take Training Course Now.
  • In the Employee Access Code box enter: W8NAEBTG and press Submit. This is the code for all Habitat affiliates and volunteers to use.
  • The Safety Courses catalog screen offers a diverse selection of safety courses, including four Habitat-specific courses. Course completion time ranges from 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Click the name of the course you wish to take. The course loads and starts automatically. When the presentation has ended you will be prompted to take a Quiz.
  • Upon completion of the Quiz, you’ll be given your accuracy score, indicating Pass or Fail.
  • If you Fail, you may log in again and re-take the course at a later time
  • If you Pass, you will be directed to a course completion screen. On this screen enter your First Name and Last Name in the appropriate fields. In the Location field enter the Habitat affiliate name you are working with.
  • Course completion information is provided to HFHI, the program administrator and program underwriter.