The supermarket might seem like a very safe environment, but for the employees, there are many risks that can result in an accident. From slips and falls, contact with heavy machinery, and more, employers need to take their health and safety responsibilities seriously.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most common injuries sustained by supermarket workers and offer tips on how to avoid them.
What Are The Consequences of Not Providing a Safe Workplace?
If a workplace is not safe, employees can get injured. This then results in what can be an immense period of stress and worry for the employee, not to mention the pain and long-term issues that the injury can cause.
Understandably, this can result in a compensation claim to help the employee through a difficult time and address the potential for loss of future earnings and care needs. Even something like a claim for a broken ankle at work can mean that the employee incurs expenses from not being able to drive, experiences limitations to their life from not being mobile, and the risk of long-term issues related to the accident.
From the perspective of the supermarket owner, not only do they lose the valuable member of staff, but they may also have to deal with the potential of bad press and poor staff morale. Then there is the risk of fines and even prison sentences if it can be shown that they did not provide a safe working environment.
This means that supermarket owners should take steps to prevent accidents and injuries in the workplace. By providing a safe working environment and proper safety training, they can help protect their employees from harm.
Slips and Falls
Slips and falls are a leading cause of injury for supermarket employees. Wet floors, spilled liquids, and cluttered aisles can all lead to slip and fall accidents. To prevent these accidents, it is important to keep the floors clean and dry and to keep the aisles clear of clutter.
Back strains are another common injury for supermarket employees, and this type of injury is often caused by lifting heavy objects or by repetitive motions. To prevent back strains, it is important to lift with your legs instead of your back and to take breaks often to stretch your muscles.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is another common injury for supermarket employees, and this condition is caused by repetitive motions, such as typing or scanning items at the checkout counter. To prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, it is important to take breaks often and to stretch your wrists and hands regularly.
Cuts, punctures, and scrapes
Retail employees often find it necessary to use a variety of sharp tools, such as box cutters or knives, to open boxes and packaging. These tools can easily result in wounds to hands and fingers, especially when they aren’t being used correctly or where training hasn’t been provided for their safe use.
While it’s easy to focus on the front-of-house operation, the warehouses at the rear of the supermarket can also be the cause of accidents.
Injuries Caused By Falling Objects
Most supermarkets will stack the stock as high as possible to maximize space within their warehouse area. This can result in items falling from a great height, making even a small item a potential hazard.
Forklift Truck Accidents
It’s essential that only fully trained staff operate the forklift trucks. While it may look simple, their operation requires the ability to be incredibly precise when it comes to timing and positioning, which is then combined with the ability to negotiate busy environments with often little space to maneuver.
How to Prevent Retail Worker Injuries
Safety training is imperative for retail workers to help keep them from getting injured on the job.
Along with creating a workplace safety training program, here are a few tips to help reduce the risk of injuries to supermarket employees :
- Safely store stock on shelves and ensure that the stepladders provided to reach high items are in good condition. Heavy items should be placed at waist height, while the lighter things can go on the higher shelves.
- Ensure that all staff understand and put into action safe lifting techniques. Make sure that there are lots of reminders about this, including frequent training and awareness posters.
- Make lifting aids such as hand carts and dollies available for lifting heavier items.
- Any spills must be cleaned up immediately and warning signs placed around the incident until the floor is completely dry.
- Ensure staff understand appropriate footwear policies and then ensure that this is strictly enforced.
- Keep emergency exit paths and doors clear at all times and keep lighting on walkways, exits, and parking areas maintained.
What is the Duty of Care for Supermarket Owners?
Supermarket owners have a duty of care to their employees to provide a safe working environment. This includes ensuring that the floors are clean and dry, the aisles are clear of clutter, and that heavy objects are lifted with the legs instead of the back. Supermarket owners should also provide safety training for their employees and make sure that emergency exit paths are clear at all times.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for enforcing workplace safety standards in the United States, and in the UK, there is the Health and Safety Executive. These organizations require that employers provide a safe working environment for their employees and outline specific guidelines for preventing slips, trips, and falls in the workplace.