Viral TikTok of Lowe’s employee screaming for help prompts debate among current and former workers about safety training at the home-improvement chain

lowe's employees

A viral TikTok has prompted a debate among Lowe’s workers about the company’s safety training.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

  • A Lowe’s employee resigned in February after a viral TikTok showed him being crushed by an object.

  • Lowe’s said the actions in the video “are contrary to the training” it provides.

  • Some current and former workers praise the company’s practices, while others say they find the training insufficient.

A viral TikTok video showing a now-former Lowe’s employee screaming for help while struggling to retrieve a heavy box from a high shelf has sparked a debate among Lowe’s employees: Does the home-improvement chain prioritize safety and provide adequate training?

“They preach safety, but in the end of it all, safety comes second to anything else,” a former Lowe’s employee who worked at a store in Orlando, Florida, for 14 years told Insider. The person asked to remain anonymous due to privacy concerns but their identity is known to Insider.

But not everyone shares the same sentiment. In fact, some employees told Insider that Lowe’s safety trainings were among the best they’ve seen in the retail industry.

“Without a doubt they put safety at the very forefront of everything they do,” a former Lowe’s department manager at a store in Tacoma, Washington, said. “I’ve been in management for over 20 years now and can hands down say that Lowe’s has the best core safety values ​​and procedures in place.”

Insider spoke with more than a dozen current and former Lowe’s employees about their experiences at Lowe’s. While some passionately defended the company’s safety protocols, others said the incident depicted in the since-deleted TikTok is par for the course.

Many of these workers asked to be anonymous. Insider knows their identities.

Lowe’s did not respond to requests for comment. In response to a previous story, Lowe’s spokesman Larry Costello told Insider the actions taken by the employee in the TikTok “are contrary to the training that Lowe’s provides.”

What does Lowe’s safety training entail?

Per employee, Lowe’s trains workers to operate equipment such as forklifts and rolling ladders through a combination of online courses and hands-on experiences.

In the TikTok, the worker struggles as he attempts to bring the box down while riding a store lift.

“Every employee who uses the machine in the TikTok, a Ballymore Drivable Power Stocker Lift, is required to complete an operation and safety course before being permitted to get in one,” a current Lowe’s employee in Tennessee told Insider. “After the course is completed they then must work with a supervisor who is permitted to be a trainer, and then the employee must demonstrate that they have the knowledge to use the machine correctly and in the proper use scenarios.”

He added that this type of training is required for any power equipment, and that every employee has daily and weekly training. The employee asked that his name be withheld because he is not authorized to share “privileged information.”

But according to some, hands-on training is where Lowe’s falls flat.

“Powered equipment training is a joke compared to any other retail environment,” a former Michigan Lowe’s employee said. “You watch a training video and they send you on your way.”

Another former Lowe’s employee from a Louisiana store told Insider that the safety precautions were good on paper, “but a lot of it begins to get lost in translation once it makes its way down to us floor workers.”

“There are many situations we are put into that we are not trained for,” he said. “We are trained only on a baseline example of when you have everything you need to do your job, but when it comes to real work, that was never the case and it caused a lot of issues.”

Employees who feel pressured because of staffing shortages or impatient customers can end up using equipment improperly, the former Louisiana Lowe’s employee said: “We would be forced to figure it out.”

Is Lowe’s a safe place to work?

In a previous comment to Insider, Costello, the Lowe’s spokesman, said “the safety of our associates and customers is embedded in our culture at Lowe’s.” It’s a message the retailer often repeats in statements to investors and the public.

The company introduced in 2020 the Lowe’s Safety Review, a daily safety inspection store managers use to identify hazards and track corrections, according to its 2021 corporate responsibility report.

Lowe’s partially credits that for a decline in significant injuries for three straight years. In 2021, for every 100 employees, there were 5.15 significant injuries, per OSHA data β€” down from 5.36 in 2020 and 6.37 in 2019.

For comparison, at Lowe’s biggest competitor, Home Depot, the significant injury rates were 4.25, 4.03, and 4.89 in 2021, 2020, and 2019, respectively.

Despite improvements in recent years, some of Lowe’s employees say they feel the company isn’t a safe place to work.

“I once had a shower surround fall on my head and leave me with a black eye one time β€” all using the same machine, the ballymore, as in the TikTok, with little to no training,” a former Ohio Lowe’s employee told Insider. “While doing inventory I dislocated my wrist moving one of them across an aisle.”

“It’s very dangerous.”

Are you a current or former Lowe’s employee who wants to share your thoughts and experiences about safety at the company? Contact Ben Tobin on email at [email protected] or by encrypted messaging app Signal at +1 703-498-9171.

Read the original article on Business Insider