The number and rate of workplace injuries in the retail trade rose in 2018, according to the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The retail trade was the only one of 19 private industries in which the rate of nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses rose in 2018, the BLS stated.
The 2018 rate was 3.5 cases per 100 full-time workers, up from 3.3 in 2017. This was the first increase in the rate for the retail trade since the BLS began tracking data for the industry beginning in 2003.
The number of injuries and illnesses in retail trade increased in 2018, rising 4 percent (%). Of the 409,900 injuries and illnesses in retail trade in 2018, 126,850 (31%) involved a worker missing at least 1 day of work.
Among the cases involving days away from work in retail trade, more than one-third (42,790) were from overexertion and bodily reaction.
Other injuries resulting in days away from work were:
- 38,940 from being struck by objects or equipment;
- 34,190 from falls, slips, or trips;
- 3,920 in transportation incidents;
- 3,910 from exposures to harmful substances or environments;
- 2,490 from violence or injuries caused by persons or animals; and
- 160 from fires or explosions.
All other exposures accounted to 460 injuries.
Last month, the BLS announced that the rate of total recordable injuries for all private industry remained unchanged from 2017 to 2018.
There were 2.8 million nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in 2018, and the incidence rate for total recordable cases (TRCs) in private industry was 2.8 per 100 full-time workers.
The American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) called the absence of any reduction in the incidence rate “unacceptable” and encouraged private sector employers to take steps to better protect their workers from injury and illness.
Young Retail Workers at Risk
Thousands of young retail workers are injured each year, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). NIOSH points out that workers under the age of 25 are more likely to be injured than more experienced workers.
Retail workers may overexert themselves by lifting objects that are too heavy, doing the same motion over and over, using bad postures, or working too long without breaks.
NIOSH urges retail workers to remember the following cautions when lifting:
- Keep the item being lifted close to the body,
- Avoid lifting off the floor and from overhead;
- Avoid twisting and bending while lifting; and
- Keep the back straight, and lift with the legs.
NIOSH encourages employers to consult a human-factors expert or certified ergonomist for lifting issues. A qualified expert can apply the Revised NIOSH Lifting Equation to find the Recommended Weight Limit or Lifting Index for the lifting tasks in their stores.
Workers in large home centers, grocery stores, and superstores are more likely to experience overexertion injuries than those in smaller stores, such as clothing, shoe, sporting goods, floral, and jewelry stores, according to NIOSH.