Retail workers are the face of the business. They interact with the customers and handle the merchandise. While this might seem like a safe industry, there are some serious risks. Employers need to take steps to ensure that their employees have a safe working environment. Employees should have the tools and protocol that helps them to remain injury free.
Knowing the risks of the retail industry is a good place to start. There are several that are common and should be the primary focus of a safety plan.
- Control fire risks. Never place anything near sprinkler heads or fire alarms. Keep doorways unblocked. Don’t use anything that has a frayed cord or wires that are loose. Have working fire extinguishers that are easy to access.
- Keep shelves neat and tidy. Don’t overload upper shelves and place heavy objects on the bottom ones. Throw packaging materials away promptly.
- Practice proper ladder safety. Always use a ladder with the correct weight load rating. Only have one person on the ladder at a time. Don’t place it in front of an unlocked door or in the middle of a walkway unless someone is alerting people that you are working.
- Clean the floors. Slips and trips are major problems that can be avoided if the floors are kept clean. Loose items, trash, stray merchandise and anything else must be kept off the floor. Any spilled liquids should be cleaned promptly, and warning signs should be placed near the spill until it is fully dry.
- Use equipment and tools safely. Box cutters, for example, pose a laceration risk if employees try to rush through opening boxes to set out merchandise. Never use a blade by pulling it toward you. Always use fresh, sharp cutting instruments. Use tools in their intended manner. Ask for instructions if you aren’t sure how to use them.
- Minimize the chance of musculoskeletal injuries. Stretching before a shift and resting periodically during the shift can help. Try not to use repetitive motions while doing your job. Use proper lifting techniques. Ask for help if you have large, heavy or bulky items to pick up.
- Always have adequate lighting. The risk of injury is greater when there isn’t good lighting since it is more likely to have an accident when you can’t see where you are going very well. Even outdoor areas, such as trash dumpster locations and parking lots should have good lighting.
When a retail employee suffers an injury at work, they will likely need to get medical care and might need to take time off work. The benefits that workers’ compensation offers can help to cover the medical bills and may provide partial wage replacement for time missed. There are specific requirements for these benefits, as well as others administered through the program.