Most Common Retail Worker Injuries

Topics: Retail

Shoppers enjoy browsing their favorite clothing store, selecting the perfect produce at a grocery store and picking up supplies at the local hardware store, often on a weekly or monthly basis. These errands can be completed safely thanks to retail workers ensuring the stores are clean, tidy and well-maintained.

Retail stores are generally considered safe places for both the customers and the employees. It might come as a surprise to learn that retail workers could actually face a variety of hazards that can lead to injuries as they go about their daily duties such as stocking shelves, moving boxes in a stockroom or warehouse, climbing ladders and more.

Hazards in Retail Stores that Lead to Worker Injuries

Some of the most common hazards in retail industry include:
  • Wet or slippery floors
  • Falling merchandise from shelves
  • Improperly lifting or handling materials
  • Cluttered aisles or pathways
  • Repetitive movements and/or standing in one position
  • Heavy equipment like forklifts or pallet jacks
  • Workplace violence
  • Sharp tools such as box cutters
  • Motor vehicle accidents

Common Workplace Injuries Suffered by Retail Workers

These hazards can result in a variety of injuries for retail workers of all ages - and high payouts for their claims. AmTrust’s 2019 Retail Risk Report reveals recent trends in retail claims, including the top injury groups that result in lost time from the workplace.

Some of the top injury groups include:

Muscle strains and sprains

Strains are the top reported and top paid injury group according to our Retail Risk Report. These injuries also result in the most time out of work at an average of 33 days. Retail workers can suffer muscle strains and sprains in a variety of ways, whether from being improperly trained in lifting techniques, pushing and pulling heavy loads or even just from repeating the same movement over and over.

Cuts, punctures and scrapes

Retail employees often find it necessary to use a variety of sharp tools, such as box cutters or knives, to open boxes and packaging. Hairstylists and barbers use scissors or razors daily. These sharp tools can easily result in wounds to hands and fingers, especially when they aren’t being used correctly.

Fall or slip

Falls and slips are the third highest reported cause of retail worker injuries, and they often occur due to issues like wet floors, uneven walkways or parking lots, or cluttered high-traffic areas. Falls from heights, such as from a ladder or scaffolding, can also result in a variety of injuries from bruises to broken bones. While employees are more likely to be injured due to a muscle strain, the payout for a claim involving a fall is 29.8% higher.

Struck by

Retail workers are also at risk of being struck by objects or bumping against something. Items not properly stacked on shelves may topple over and fall on top of an employee. These injuries can range from mild to severe depending on the force of the impact and the type of object that struck the worker.

Motor vehicle accidents

Motor vehicle accidents may only account for 2% of reported claims, but the average payout is one of the highest at an average of $14,941. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that motor vehicle crashes are the first or second leading cause of death in every major industry group, including retail. Some retail operations offer delivery service to customers, such as grocery stores, automotive parts and supplies shops, or florists, and drivers may not be properly trained in safe driving procedures.

How to Prevent Retail Worker Injuries

Safety training is imperative for retail workers to help keep them from getting injured on the job. According to Jeff Corder, VP of Loss Control at AmTrust, “The majority of retail employees' job descriptions and daily activities include repetitive bending, stooping, squatting and lifting. If employees are not trained and /or if safe practices are not enforced, injury is imminent. Having new hire training, regular safety meetings, and holding all employees accountable (including management) will help decrease the frequency of strains and all types of injuries /accidents.”

Along with creating a workplace safety training program, a few tips to help mitigate the risk of retail worker injuries include: 
  • Safely store stock on shelves and ensure that the stepladders provided to reach high items are in good condition. Place heavy items at waist level and lighter items on higher shelves.
  • Make sure all employees understand safe lifting techniques and reinforce them with frequent training and reminders. When possible, employees should use lifting aids like handcarts and dollies for lifting heavier materials.
  • Clean up any spills immediately and keep walking surfaces free of clutter.
  • Ensure employees are aware of procedures regarding on-premises security, robbery and shoplifting.
  • Create and enforce proper footwear policies for all employees.
  • Avoid strains by providing mechanical aids such as rolling platforms, pallet stackers, hand trucks, stocking carts, and so on.
  • Keep emergency exit paths and doors clear at all times and keep lighting on walkways, exits and parking lots maintained.

Loss Control Services from AmTrust Financial

AmTrust Financial’s Loss Control department can help your retail operation assess the conditions, practices and processes of the workplace to help identify common hazards facing your workers and customers. It’s our goal to provide effective safety resources and commercial property safeguards to ensure your small business thrives. Contact us today to learn more.

This material is for informational purposes only and is not legal or business advice. Neither AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries or affiliates represents or warrants that the information contained herein is appropriate or suitable for any specific business or legal purpose. Readers seeking resolution of specific questions should consult their business and/or legal advisors. Coverages may vary by location. Contact your local RSM for more information.

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