March is Workplace Safety Month! This year, we’re focusing on retail workers! It might not seem like an obvious choice, but retail workers are at risk for on the job injuries – particularly during events like sales or inventory!
Most injuries to retail workers occur because of the manual lifting and frequent repeated actions that are required for retail but slips and falls among retail workers have been on the rise.
Management at both the corporate and local levels can help prevent worker injuries by making safety a priority. They can include safety training, including on proper lifting techniques, falls, ladders, shopping cart collection, and spills, during both orientation and training refreshers. They can also make sure that complete store inspections are done monthly along with daily inspections for high risk areas. When building or remodeling, management can pay special attention to the type of flooring put in. Start a safety committee with monthly meetings and take their concerns seriously. Small steps can add up!
- Wear appropriate footwear! You are on your feet for an entire shift! Be prepared to be up and moving. Make sure your shoes can handle liquid and powder spills, ice, snow, and other hazards.
- Be alert! Watch out for spills in aisles, distracted customers and coworkers, unexpected items in aisles, and cars and carts.
- Use ladder safety! Whether stocking inventory, hanging decorations, or creating a display, remember to use ladders safely!
- Report and clean up spills immediately!
- Use proper lift techniques!
- Be mindful of how they carry, push, and pull merchandise as well! It’s not just lifting that causes strains and other injuries! Be careful how you move things around and ask for help when you need it.
- Use caution when opening cartons! Keep box cutter blades sharp. Wear gloves if you can. Set the blade to a short setting if the blade allows it. Keep your thumb and other hand well away from the blade while working. Angle the blade away from your body – if your hand slips, the blade will move away from your body rather than coming towards you. Retract the blade as soon as you are finished cutting.
- Be careful when grabbing merchandise – look out for cuts in materials, leaks, etc., particularly when handling things such as household cleaners that could irritate or even burn your skin.
- Rotate through different tasks throughout your shift and/or work week to break up repeated actions. Doing the same task over and over again can lead to overuse, fatigue, and strain of muscles.
- Be aware while using a tagging gun. Watch where your hands are at all times and tag merchandise away from your body. If you get a needlestick while tagging, you could be at risk for different diseases that are passed through the blood, such as hepatitis or even HIV, if someone with one of these diseases has been stuck by the same tagging gun. Wash the area with soap and water immediately. Make an appointment with your healthcare provider, preferably within 24 hours. They might provide you with a hepatitis B vaccination, testing, treatment, or simply advise you on steps to take.