Retail workers sell a variety of products in storefronts ranging from department stores and grocery stores to quick stop marts and specialty shops. While the products and the environment may vary, if you are a retail worker, keep your mind on safety while you are doing business.
A primary hazard for retail workers is injury due to slips, trips, and falls. Wear sturdy, comfortable footwear with non-slip soles. Maintain good housekeeping around the worksite to avoid tripping hazards. Report spills, uneven flooring, and/or piled debris promptly so they can be cleaned up, repaired, and cleared away. To avoid a fall, use ladders and footstools properly.
Ergonomic injuries are another retail worker hazard. Know the signs and symptoms of ergonomic injuries such as numbness, tingling, and/or pain. Report symptoms and injuries to your supervisor. Use good lifting techniques when handling and lifting materials by keeping a straight back and using your leg muscles to power the lift. Avoid excessive or repetitive reaches for materials. Store materials properly so they are easy to access.
Rotate your job tasks throughout your workday to avoid repetitive motion injuries. Change your working, standing, and seated positions throughout the day by using anti-fatigue floor mats and footstools to prevent staying in the same position all day (static postures). Pad sharp or hard work surfaces to prevent contact stress to your wrists, arms, and elbows. Take 30 second micro-breaks every 20-to-30 minutes of work time to give your body a rest and change positions.
As a retail worker in a public facility, be aware of workplace violence hazards. Prepare and practice how to handle violence, robberies, and shoplifting if they occur. To discourage robbery and shoplifting, greet people as they enter the store; ask lone shoppers if they need help. Keep the store clean and well lit. Move around the store periodically. If you work alone, keep the back doors secure. Never exit alone at night to empty the trash.
Get training on the security features of your worksite such as panic alarms, surveillance cameras, and time-lock safes for cash. Make sure the store has accurate lighting inside and outside. Ensure that landscaping does not obscure your view outside or provide a place for trespassers to hide. Know and use proper cash management policies by avoiding making deposits alone or at night. Get customer service training to learn how to handle and diffuse angry customers.
Retail workers can often change job assignments or jobs frequently. Get the proper training for your work assignment and the materials, equipment, and tools that you will use. Use safe work practices for power tools and cutting tools to avoid cuts, punctures, and other injuries. Know the hazards and properties of any chemicals used or stored in the facility and how to use a safety data sheet (SDS). Wear proper, comfortable clothing for your job task and any required personal protective equipment (PPE). Be familiar with your worksite emergency plans, including exits and evacuation routes. Know first aid so you can help yourself, coworkers, and the public if needed.