Have you ever been overworked at your job, but consoled yourself with the thought that working retail isn’t as dangerous as construction or an industrial careers? According to a recent report on injuries in retail employees, you’re not alone—and this mindset may actually contribute to on-the-job injuries in retail workers.
The report, performed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), discovered that there are many false perceptions of injuries in retail environments, including an assumption that there is a lower risk of injury in retail jobs. Data available from 2006 indicates that wholesale and retail trades accounted for over 20 percent of nonfatal injuries and illnesses, despite these industries occupying just 15.5 percent of overall U.S. labor.
Researchers offered a number of reasons for the hundreds of thousands of retail worker injuries that occur each year, including:
- Underestimated risks. Although retail work has a disproportionately high number of illnesses and injuries, there is a common perception that the retail trade is relatively safe, even among its own workers. This false sense of security may lead employees to downplay or ignore daily risks, such as lifting, carrying, and tripping injuries.
- Reluctance to take leave. Retail environments are more likely to have hourly wage rates and flexible hours, meaning workers may not have the luxury of paid time off or benefits such as sick leave or health insurance. As a result, workers who are employed part time or cannot afford to miss work may ignore injury symptoms or fail to report a work injury, as they fear losing potential income (or even their jobs).
- Improper training. While safety training courses can drastically reduce work injury rates, many employers require staff training only when they are hired—and in some cases, no safety training is offered at all. Training on the safest way to perform tasks, such as lifting heavy objects, cleaning spills, climbing ladders, and responding to staff and customer injury rates decreases both the severity of injuries and incidences of lost time from work.
- Speed over safety. Even when employers encourage safe practices and ergonomics in the workplace, the demands of a fast-paced retail environment often put safety second. When customers begin to build up, speed becomes the overriding factor of service, placing employees at risk of burns, finger jams, slips, and falls.
Have You Been Injured On The Job?
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