Are you making your customers sick?
I am one of a growing number of the population that suffer from an invisible disability. I will leave your store without buying anything and never return. I will seek professional help elsewhere. I will probably not tell you why I am leaving because there is not enough time and sadly, many of you still don’t get it.
I know you don’t mean to offend me, or make me sick - but you do. You probably think you smell great. But the way you, your employees, and your business smell can be driving customers like me out the door.
I suffer from chemical sensitivities, a disability now recognized and protected by the Canadian Human Rights Commission. We talk about this in our Safety Guys WHMIS and OHS classes, and I am always shocked by the number of blank expressions staring back at us. People, in general, have no idea that household and beauty products can actually be very harmful.
Chemical sensitivity is a very frustrating thing to live with. For consumers like me, the simple act of buying groceries can be filled with danger. Scented products (especially perfumes, hairspray, fabric softener, air fresheners and carpet cleaners) cause a variety of allergic reactions - some give me an instant headache, my eyes water, my throat constricts, I cough, or I can feel dizzy or nauseous, or it can all happen once. And while getting myself away from the problem offers relief, I’m often left in a “hangover” state for the rest of the day.
If I think for even one second that staying in your place of business will make me sick and ruin my day, I’m leaving - fast - and taking my wallet with me.
The health problems are real. Chemical sensitivities affect people in different ways and to different extremes. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, CCOHS, has complied an in depth page of resources to highlight the causes, health risks, and solutions to creating a scent-free workplace policy. All business should be prepared to address this issue in much the same way smoke-free policies were implemented.
So how does perfume affect profit? Its very simple.
Odds are that you are already losing customers and experiencing reductions in employee productivity. By ignoring this issue, you are risking the other investments that go into making a successful company. Staff members may be quietly suffering, afraid to complain, or not realizing that their headaches and confusion are being caused by something in their work environment.
Are you really prepared to keep blindly losing customer loyalty and employee productivity?
I don't think so...and I encourage you to get honest. Take stock of fragranced products in your workplace...this applies to anything and anyone that is contributing to indoor air pollution. Research the potential dangers. Engage in open conversation with your staff and customers. Aside from extensive research on the web, anyone suffering from chemical sensitivities can be one your best sources of information.
WHMIS training will alert you to some potential dangers and some products will have an MSDS sheet to help you. Products such as air fresheners though, will require more research. The warning label and ingredients list will not provide you a clear picture on potential health risks. The term “fragrance” for example is a legal term that protects the secret recipe of a particular scent. That fragrance can be a composition of hundreds of different chemicals.
Work with your Health & Safety Committee to be proactive and develop a strategy that shows staff and clients alike that you care about their health and safety.
SKIN DEEP Cosmetics Data Base
ENVIRONMENTAL WORKING GROUP