Everybody has to shop somewhere, so retail employees are an invaluable part of the U.S. workforce.
Unfortunately, they’re also exposed to a lot of occupational hazards, and injuries can occur for all kinds of reasons – especially during the holiday season when shopping becomes the national sport for a while.
What causes so many retail worker injuries?
In 2018, for example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that more than 409,000 retail industry employees reported workplace injuries, ranging from muscle strains and sprains, cuts and lacerations, slip-and-fall injuries and more.
During the holiday season, several factors can put retail workers in increased danger. Those include:
- Crowds: The stores get crowded during the holiday shopping season, and all that increased foot traffic and congestion can elevate the risk of slips, trips and falls. Workers may also be rushed off their feet trying to keep up with the higher demand, which can increase the chances of accidents.
- Heavy lifting: A significant amount of merchandise has to be moved around during the holiday sales and promotions, and all it takes is one mistake while lifting a box to lead to serious musculoskeletal injuries.
- Extended hours: The stores open earlier and stay open later so that they can accommodate more shoppers and catch those holiday dollars, but that can cause retail workers to experience a lot of fatigue, which increases the chances they’ll make a mistake that will lead to an injury.
- Inadequate training: Seasonal hires are often added to the retail environment, and workers may be pressed into place outside of their usual working zone to make up for employee shortages. That means there are a lot of workers out there who are inadequately trained on safety protocols.
- Weather conditions: Winter weather can pose particular problems for retail workers who have to go out into parking lots, whether they’re collecting carts or doing curbside delivery. A slip on the ice is all it may take to leave someone seriously injured.
It’s important to understand that most retail workers – even temporary or seasonal employees – are covered under the workers’ compensation system. If you’ve been injured, it may be time to seek legal guidance accordingly.