Ask your average North Carolinian on the street what occupation they would most often associate with workplace injuries and you’ll likely hear answers involving construction, police, carpentry, warehouse workers, heavy machinery, road workers, etc. Chances are, not many people would say that retail workers are among some of the most dangerous of occupations. That said, just a few years ago, the US reported 26,760 workers’ compensation claims filed by retail salespersons in a single calendar year! In the top 10 occupations filing workers’ comp cases, retail positions rated number six, ahead of even construction laborers and delivery (light truck) service drivers.
Why are retail workers getting hurt on the job in such high frequencies?
Injuries to North Carolina Retail Store Employees
No matter how safe some people may think an industry is, there are always areas that could be further analyzed with a fine-tooth comb. Serious musculoskeletal injuries can result from the handling of various types of merchandise. These can include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Back pain
- Strains and sprains
When you figure in the possibility of robberies and thefts, the risk of workplace violence heightens the chance of worker injury. Sadly, retail employers do not always take the injuries suffered by their employees seriously.
Common Retail Employee Injuries
The following situations are common in retail settings, leading to potential injuries:
- Incidents involving box cutters and other sharp tools
- Workplace violence
- Heavy equipment accidents/injuries involving pallet jacks, forklifts, etc.
- Standing in one position and/or repetitive movements
- Cluttered pathways or aisles
- Improperly handling materials or improper lifting
- Merchandise falling from shelves
- Slippery or wet floors
Preventing Injuries to Retail Workers
There are some things companies and employers can do to help prevent retail worker injuries and the workers’ compensation claims that come with them:
- Maintaining clear, well-lit walkways at all times. This includes emergency exits and parking lots.
- Providing stocking carts, hand trucks, pallet stackers, rolling platforms, etc., as mechanical aids to avoid strains.
- Enforcing proper footwear for all employees.
- Keeping walking surfaces free of clutter and cleaning up spills or broken items immediately.
- Reinforcing and educating on safe lifting techniques for everyone in the company.
- Using higher shelves to stock lighter items and waist-level or lower shelves for the heavier items. Employers can also provide step stools for shorter employees.
Something to Keep in Mind…
The surprising number of on-the-job retail injuries could be due to the fact that big lot, well-known hardware and big-box stores are included in this count. These types of stores frequently use heavy crates and cases, and sometimes even forklifts to move and stack pallets, crates, etc. Injuries that can result in these instances only add to the injuries that already occur in an average retail setting.
Are you a retail worker who has been injured on the job? You need a competent, experienced, and knowledgeable attorney fighting for your rights. Contact us at Cardinal Law Partners today for a free consultation.