The retail environment may not appear as dangerous as a construction zone, but in recent years, the combined injury and illness rate for retail workers was higher than in the construction industry. Retail is a labor-intensive industry and retail workers face a host of safety hazards on the job, including:
- Slip and falls from liquid or powder spills, objects blocking walkways, uneven surfaces, and wet or icy parking lots and sidewalks
- Repetitive tasks that cause musculoskeletal disorders
- Heavy lifting
- Injuries from using box cutters and knives
- Workplace violence, especially for those working late shifts in stores located in high-crime areas
Injuries Common in the Retail Industry
These types of safety hazards can cause injuries that range from minor cuts and bruises to serious wounds that require emergency treatment. Some injuries need time to heal resulting in lost wages for the worker and extra costs for the employer. Retail workers frequently experience injuries, such as:
- Musculoskeletal disorders, the most common injury for retail workers, which include sprains and strains from lifting and carrying inventory, stocking shelves, and bagging
- Fractures, bruises, and broken bones from slip and falls
- Repetitive stress injuries from scanning barcodes and packing, such as tendonitis and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Some injuries are sudden with immediate pain, but others develop slowly over time until a worker experiences debilitating problems, such as the inability to grip something, or back problems that prevent them from working. All retail employees should know the early signs of repetitive stress injuries, which include pain, numbness, soreness, tingling, swelling, and weakness. Ignoring these signs can lead to a severe injury.
Preventing Injuries at Work
Almost all work-related injuries are preventable, and retailers have an obligation to provide a safe work environment for employees. Ways to prevent workplace injuries include:
- Scheduling regular breaks for workers
- Providing training about proper lifting, carrying techniques, and similar safety prevention methods
- Slowing down the pace of work to allow the body to recover between movements
- Practicing good housekeeping methods to reduce the risk of slip and falls
- Providing protective equipment where possible, such as gloves for workers using box cutters
Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Retail Workers
Unfortunately, accidents can happen even in a workplace run by the most safety-conscious employer. New Jersey requires all employers to have insurance for such cases. If you were injured in a work-related accident, you may be eligible for benefits that will help cover your medical expenses, lost wages if you miss work, and partial or total disability benefits.
Anyone injured at work should notify their employer immediately and seek treatment from a medical professional. Be sure to tell your doctor that your injury occurred at work. Do not delay reporting your injury as this could jeopardize your claim for benefits. The insurance company may question the seriousness of your injury if you did not report it. Your employer may not retaliate against you for filing for workers’ compensation. Any adverse action, such as termination, demotion, transfer, withholding of wages, or denial of promotion is strictly prohibited by law. For advice on filing a claim for benefits, consult with a qualified South Jersey workers’ compensation lawyer.
Our Work Injury Lawyers in New Jersey Advocate for Injured Retail Workers
If you suffered a work-related injury at your retail job, you may be eligible for compensation. At Pietras Saracino Smith & Meeks, LLP, our Work Injury Lawyers in New Jersey will evaluate your case and obtain the maximum allowable benefits. Call us at 856-761-3773 today or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we represent clients throughout South Jersey, including Camden, Cinnaminson, Delran, Maple Shade, and Pennsauken.