Safety Message for Busy Retailers

Christmas and the January sales period are a busy time for the retail sector. The Victorian WorkCover Authority (VWA) is reminding employers and employees to pay extra attention to workplace safety.

VWA inspectors are visiting retail stores across the state, talking to managers and staff about the specific risks associated with this busy time of year. They are paying particularly close attention to manual handling practices, which are responsible for 56.4 percent of all workplace injury claims in 2013-2014 within the retail sector.

“The message to retailers is to make safety a top priority over the busy sales period,” said Melinda Collinson, VWA Head of Operations and Hazardous Industries.

“Handling boxes, cartons, and other materials, and using ladders, is a normal part of a retail employee’s day. This sort of work accounts for many injuries, such as back complaints, joint, muscle, and soft tissue problems and bone fractures“, said Ms Collinson.

To address this, VWA inspectors will focus closely on good housekeeping, ladder safety, storage and management of stock, as well as the importance of staff training.

“Almost eight retail workers are injured every day in Victoria and at this time of year, new and young employees were particularly vulnerable. As many businesses hire Christmas casuals over the summer months, it is very important that young and new employees receive the appropriate training and supervision. They should be encouraged to speak up if they are unsure about how to do something safely,” said Ms Collinson.

– Every workplace is urged to take a proactive approach, to identify and fix safety issues, such as:

– Use height adjustable trolleys for loading, moving and stacking heavy items

– Store high turnover products between knee and shoulder height, for easy access

– Provide enough space between corridors and aisles for people and equipment

– Provide suitable platform ladders to retrieve goods on shelves and make sure employees are trained to use these ladders safely

– Do not handle bulky, heavy or awkward objects while standing on steps or ladders

– Make sure that all front and back-of-store are free of clutter and excess stock

– Do not climb on chairs, tables, racking or shelves to reach high items.

It is important to use the right equipment in the workplace. Having the correct trolleys and carts as well as stepladders and stools  can help you fix existing safety issues. Remember, these products can also be customised to your specific requirements.