Take a moment to think about dangerous professions resulting in workers’ compensation claims. Construction likely tops your list. Law enforcement ranks high, too. Believe it or not, you should add retail workers.
An insurance provider study shows the average injured retail worker misses 24 days. Injuries can be as simple as muscle strains from lifting heavy objects or broken bones from tripping. While such injuries lack the drama of a law enforcement officer risking his or her life, they are just as painful and costly.
Which retail workers are at risk?
A review of 20,000 workers’ compensation claims found workers often at danger in:
- Meat, fish and poultry markets
- Hardware stores
- Automobile parts and accessory stores
- Barbershops, beauty parlors and hairstyling salons
Common injury areas include elbows, ankles, knees, backs, shoulders, thumbs and face. Soft-tissue and upper extremity injuries also keep retail workers off the job.
The consequences for workers include lost time, lost income and possible permanent injury. Employers are subject to costly compensation claims and fines for safety violations.
Why is retail work so dangerous?
The key to preventing injuries, the study said, is safety training. This puts much of the burden on retail employers.
Some areas of concern include:
- Proper footwear policies
- Clearing hazards from floors and other surfaces
- Safe storage of stock on shelves
- Keeping stepladders in good condition
- Enforcing safe lifting guidelines
- Providing support, such as hand carts, for moving stock
- Proper lighting
Knowing your rights under workers’ compensation law is essential. The laws are complex, though, and you can expect little cooperation from your employer if you file a claim.
What can retail workers do?
To protect themselves, workers should inform their employers about unsafe conditions. Unfortunately, some employers accept worker injuries as the cost of doing business.
Employees also should practice safety at all times, of course. When an accident happens, inform your employer at once. Document the incident and get statements from witnesses to prepare for your claim.