Between ongoing supply chain reliability, staffing shortages and inflation, retail employers have a growing list of concerns. The addition of peak sales season brings even more stress, requiring seasonal employees to cover extended store hours and increased demand. Unfortunately, fundamental safety concerns may be overlooked in time-crunched efforts to grind through the holiday rush.
“There are many reasons that seasonal employees have a higher probability of work-related injuries, including less experience and proper job training,” said Beverly Covey, Senior Risk Service Manager at Safety National. “Coupled with less familiarity of their surroundings, increased pressures to complete job tasks quickly and more clutter during high-volume shopping times, this can be a recipe for injuries to occur.”
These safety steps can help retail employers mitigate some of their largest risks this holiday season.
1. Reduce the likelihood of slips, trips and falls by keeping walkways, store floors and stockrooms cleared of loose items, trash and merchandise.
Debris and clutter can mask hidden dangers like spills, dangerous equipment or unstable surfaces. Periodic cleanups are incredibly effective in reducing accidents and can even increase productivity and reduce overall anxiety for employees.
2. Encourage employees to wear closed-toe and slip-resistant shoes.
Slip-resistant shoes have a tread pattern that channels liquids away, increasing contact with the ground. They have been steadily proven to significantly reduce the number of accidents in the workplace.
3. Conduct store audits to check for damaged carpet or flooring, blocked exits and cluttered aisleways.
Damaged carpets or flooring should be replaced as soon as possible, and customer traffic should be limited in these areas until fixed.
4. Organize back stock and do not overload store shelves.
Overloading can cause structural damage and deformation, leaving a potential for collapse and severely injuring any nearby employees.
5. Train all employees on proper handling of box cutters to reduce cuts or lacerations.
Dull, broken blades, retractable blades left open and cutting in the wrong direction can all lead to serious injury. Gloves can also provide a firmer grip too.
6. Always use caution when using a ladder.
Employees should maintain three points of contact, two hands and a foot or two feet and a hand, while climbing and descending. Barricades should also be used to keep traffic away from the ladder.
7. Train employees on proper lifting techniques.
Ergonomics training can reduce the risks of workplace musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Employees who engage in highly repetitive work should also have frequent, short, alternate work activities.
8. Check to ensure there is adequate lighting in all areas of the store.
Proper lighting can better illuminate surfaces to identify hazardous spills or deformations that may cause trips and can also help spot and intervene if an accident occurs. Do not only reserve proper lighting for inside the store. Parking lots with high visibility can identify suspicious activity and prevent security-related incidents.