If there is an industry that is impacted by seasons greater than any other, it’s the retail world.
In fact, most retail sales from November through December usually account for more than 35% of the annual sales in all business categories across the board. But this also doesn't ring true for every company operating in the retail industry.
Actually, depending on the type of business, summer might just be the peak season. Summer is also the peak season for job-related accidents, for retail, warehouses, and truck drivers alike.
When temperatures rise, so do retail accident rates. In fact, a report in 2016 showed that reported accidents involving employees at retail establishments saw an increase of 22%. Some safety experts attribute the rise in some of these retail-related accidents to lack of hydration, which leads to a reduction of awareness, and heat exhaustion. Alongside this lack of hydration issue, there is the fact that some retail operations lack decent safety training. Even more so when we are talking about heat-related problems that may arise.
Regardless of the reason, it’s important for retailers to understand the increased risk of accidents during the summertime. So, today we are talking about the ways that these incidents can be reduced and how you can improve summer retail safety. In this blog post, we’ll dive into the 5 leading types of summertime retail accidents, and provide a few easy-to-follow tips that any type of retail establishment can start doing today!
What are the Top 5 Reported Retail Employee Accidents?
In 2017, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reported the most common on-the-job accidents at retail locations in the United States. The top 5 types of injuries include:
Overexertion: This type of injury is due to excessive physical activity. It usually causes injuries to backs, knees, and other joints or ligaments due to working past their body’s normal activity.
Lifting and Bending: Using improper lifting and bending techniques lead to back strains, injuries, and possible long-term damage.
Trips, Slips, and Falls: Another item typically attributed to rushing or working past an individual comfort level. Injuries may range from minor scrapes to broken bones.
Job-Related Stress: Job stress might seem minor, but it can cause more than just mental and emotional. Attention to detail and one's surroundings is also reduced.
Being Struck: Accidents like products falling off shelves or being hit by shopping carts or forklifts are common problems. However, this issue is increased in the summer season.
Top 5 Tips for Reducing Summertime Accidents
Most of the injuries listed above are the cause of not paying attention, inefficient safety training, and physical exhaustion. Luckily, there are plenty of ways that retail business operators can significantly reduce the potential of these problems arising.
While this is by no means the "end all/be all" of summer retail safety tips lists, we believe these are the most important by far...
Safety Training for New Employees
It should really go without saying... but before even considering hiring anyone to fill the ranks, any business should have a safety training program in place. Situational awareness is a leading cause of workplace accidents and injuries.
When people begin a new job, they are often overwhelmed by various job tasks, duties, and their environment. To start them on the right foot (safety-wise), add them to your employee safety training program. And before you ask, no, those "safety training" videos the HR department supplied you will not suffice. Providing a practical training exercise or assigning a ‘buddy’ to help them learn safe work habits tends to be lacking.
Lead them through some staged drills that mimic real-life situations. Evaluate them, score them on various criteria, and really keep safety at the forefront of their mind.
Provide Easier Access to Water
When it gets hotter outside, the temperature indoors will likely increase.
Many retail locations feature air-conditioning, yet other areas like docks and the sales floor heat up quickly. Don't even get us started on how bad it is out there for the cart pushers in the parking lot.
Providing employees with easier access to water (either allowing a water bottle at their workstation or frequent water breaks) makes a huge impact on your efforts to increase summer retail safety!
Encourage Pre-Work Exercise or Stretching
Many on the job injuries are simply due to turning, bending or lifting. Avoid those muscle strains with some simple stretching before work!
Proactive companies understand that because of rising heat during the summer, employees want to get the job finished quicker. This usually results in pulled muscles as they rush through their tasks.
Some retailers have even gone as far as to make a pre-work stretch session mandatory. The incentive, of course, being five minutes of paid ‘stretch and flex’ before beginning their physical work.
Rotate Employees Who Work Outdoors
If you have a retail business that has areas of responsibility outdoors, consider rotating employees from indoor to outdoor locations.
Grocery stores with shopping carts are a great example of this type of activity. Perhaps assigning more employees to shorter shifts may reduce exhaustion (especially during extremely hot days). Frequent breaks from the hot sun to rehydrate and get body temperatures cooled down will not only keep your employees safe, but it will also keep them productive.
Take Your Time
Regardless of the time of year, rushing will always lead to accidents on the job. The proactive retail leader should practice what they preach, by emphasizing the importance of taking time to complete tasks.
Considering revisiting your summer retail safety program? Maybe you need to integrate a new one altogether?
Whatever the case may be, reach out to the experts here at Redwood Logistics to help get you up and running... while keeping heat-related injuries down!