While retail work may be safer than agriculture or mining, the potential for injury in any workplace is very real. Retail is a diverse industry, so drawing a common thread of injuries is difficult. Varying store layouts, product offerings and role requirements mean, a risk that is more prominent in one store will be less prominent in another. Creating safer retail workplaces will assist the retail businesses preventing injury and illness in the workplace. This will help your business achieving business objectives, as well as meeting legal and moral obligations in providing and maintaining a safe and healthy workplace.
In this blog, WHS Training & Compliance provides some education on the common risks associated with working in a retail space.
Despite the variation within the industry, there are some common risks we can warn against. Slipping on uneven or improperly cared for floors is a significant danger, especially as retain workers may be required to cross large stores in short periods of time in order to fulfill their role. Being struck by falling objects is another common risk, especially in stores stocking large, heavy or irregularly shaped objects. Employers can mitigate the risk by requiring heavy objects to be stored below a maximum height.
Use of chemicals such as cleaners can also be dangerous in some circumstances. Always ensure that workers using harsh cleansers have proper eye and hand protection and that all work involving these cleansers takes place in a well-ventilated room.
The danger of repetitive strain injuries
Injuries don’t always result from singular freak accidents. In many cases, retail workers suffer from repetitive strain injuries (RSI). The long-shifts, repetitive tasks and limited mobility associated with many retail roles creates a situation where RSI can be quite common. Whether it’s from moving products onto and off shelves all day, typing at a computer or operating a cash register, RSI is a real and present concern for people across the retail industry.
Employers can minimise the risk of repetitive strain industry through training and careful structuring of the work environment. Educating employees on safer ways to grip and move large or heavy objects, and organising workstations so that they do not have to twist and contort themselves repeatedly to reach commonly used items can go a long way to minimising the chance of RSI. Implementing and encouraging employees to take ‘stretch breaks’ at regular intervals can also help to manage repetitive strain.
Factoring bullying into the equation
As an employer, your responsibility extends beyond physical safety. Bullying of employees – whether from customers or other people within the business – is a real concern in every industry, with half of all Australians expected to suffer bullying at some point in their career.
Ensuring a safe work environment encompasses combatting bullying. Building a culture where people feel responsible toward each other as team members can go a long way to stopping bullying before it starts. Additionally, having clear lines of reporting for anyone experiencing bullying – and ensuring that reports are followed up on – can help make people experiencing bullying feel more secure.
Make the smarter, safer choice for your business and consult with a WHS Training & Compliance team member to learn how we can improve your workplace.