Compared with many other careers, working in retail probably seems safe. Stocking shelves or running a cash register doesn’t seem like particularly risky work. Compared to forestry work, construction jobs or even transportation careers, retail work seems very safe.
People working in retail facilities often make entry-level wages in part because their employers claim the job requires little skill and poses little risk to the people on their staff. In reality, all job environments have risks, and retail workers do get hurt more often than people in many other industries.
How often do retail workers get hurt on the job?
In 2018, the most recent year with data available from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, 404,900 workers reported work-related injuries or illnesses caused by their retail employment. About one-third of those cases led to a worker missing at least one day of work.
Different retail environments have different levels of risk. A small grocery store is relatively safe, while research shows that pet supply stores have the highest rate of injury. Roughly seven out of every 100 pet supply store employees will suffer a nonfatal injury in any given year. Home furnishing stores, building material stores, tire stores, supercenters and used merchandise stores are also among the most dangerous retail facilities.
What are some of the dangers involved in retail work?
Some of the workplace risks that a retail worker has are quite obvious. The potential is always there for a robbery or some kind of violence to occur because of an unsatisfied customer. Workers, just like visitors, could slip on spilled products or puddles and get hurt.
Stocking shelves can be a repetitive task that might lead to repetitive motion injuries. Overexertion is another concern, especially if someone has to lift heavy items. Equipment ranging from meat slicers in a deli to forklifts in the warehouse part of a store could also lead to someone getting severely hurt on the job.
Retail workers who do get hurt and need medical care or time off of work can usually apply for workers’ compensation benefits. They can receive both wage replacement and medical benefits to help them until they recover and can return to work.