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Retail work can carry some serious hazards

Stores of all kinds are seeing more in-person customers again — particularly as the holidays approach This means job opportunities for people of all ages.

If you’ve never worked in retail or it’s been decades since you did, it’s easy to underestimate the potential risks to your safety that can come with working in a retail environment, whether it’s a grocery store, a small boutique, a large chain store or a warehouse.

Four leading retail injuries

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has identified the leading safety hazards for those who work in retail. Let’s take a look at some of those.

  • Overexertion injuries – These are often caused by lifting or moving heavy boxes or other objects – often using improper techniques or doing something alone that requires more than one person. These injuries can include inflamed joints and ligaments, strained backs and worse.
  • Falls – These can be caused by slipping in a spill or tracked-in water as well as tripping over objects left on the floor, buckled carpet or rugs and more. Many falls in retail work involve ladders. Depending on how a person falls, they may suffer anything from a broken bone to a concussion or worse.
  • Cuts and lacerations – Retail jobs often involve unpacking shipments. This usually requires box cutters, scissors and other sharp objects that can cause serious injuries if people get distracted or don’t know how to use them properly.
  • Violence – This doesn’t just involve shoppers fighting over the last big-screen TV on Black Friday. People’s tempers seem to be shorter than ever these days. Violence from customers as well as fellow employees is a real concern for many retail workers.

People who work in large retail warehouses are also at risk of being struck by machinery or heavy items falling from a high shelf as well as loud noises that can cause hearing loss.                                                                                                                                                         

What are your employer’s obligations?

Employers have an obligation to provide the safest possible working environment for their employees and to train them properly for any equipment they will be using or task they’ll be undertaking – whether they’re full-time employees or are working part-time during the holiday season.

If you’ve suffered an injury in the workplace that requires medical attention and potentially some time off, it’s crucial to seek the workers’ compensation benefits to which you’re entitled. Know what your rights are.