Over the past several years, researchers have examined the rates of injury and illness in the retail industry. There is a common misconception that retail is a safe working environment, when research consistently shows a disproportionately high number of injuries among retail workers. Consider the following statistics. In 2006, researchers reported:
- 21 million retail industry employees
- 820,500 injuries
- 581 fatalities
- Retail makes up 15.5% of private sector work, yet accounts for 20.1% of workplace injuries and illnesses.
With so many people working in retail, and injuries clearly being a concern, let’s take a look at some of the most common injuries among retail employees.
Common Injuries in Retail
Research from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) identifies the following as the top ten hazards for retail employees:
- Overexertion – Injury resulting from continuous or excessive physical movements, often repetitive. Causes injury to tendons, ligaments, and joints.
- Handling/Lifting Materials – Pushing, pulling, lifting, and lowering heavy freight can cause strains, sprains, and back injuries.
- Slip, Trip, and Fall – Improper maintenance, boxes left in walkways, improper placement of warning signage all lead to retail slip and fall accidents. Injuries include twists, sprains, fractures, back injury, or head injury.
- Stress – Around 25 percent of retail employees report feeling stress is a huge factor in their daily lives. Stress can lead to poor mental or physical health, and can increase the risk of injury.
- Struck by Object – Being struck by falling or shifting cargo or items on shelves. Injuries include bruises, lacerations, broken bones, and head injuries.
- Box Cutters and Sharps – Cuts and lacerations caused by box cutters and sharp objects are one of the leading preventable injuries in retail.
- Forklift Accidents – Forklifts can cause crush injuries, fractures, strains, or cuts when not used properly.
- Noise – Work environments with loud machinery or tools can cause hearing loss.
- Violence – Workplace violence results in a significant number of retail injuries. These include assault, sexual assault, or even homicide.
- Bullying – Bullying or harassment among retail employees is a cause of physical and emotional injury.