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Certain workers are at greater risk for slip and fall injuries

The days of the long holiday season that involve a great amount of gift giving are behind us. Now Americans are flocking to malls, grocery stores and large retail outlets in order to exchange gifts, restock the pantry and purchase other things on their wish lists with gift cards. Employees at these large retailers now have their hands full helping customers navigate return policies and restocking the shelves after the holiday rush.

Unfortunately, retail employees must be especially careful on these next few hectic days. Much like so many factory worker injuries, retail employees tend to suffer high rates of slips, trips, falls and injury as a result. For the 21 million American workers who punch the clock at retail and wholesale operations, the end of the holiday season is a time marked by serious injury risks.

Employers and employees alike should be aware that tending to certain risk factors may dramatically reduce the likelihood that workers will slip and fall this season. First, any slippery flooring surface must be kept clean and dry. This can seem like a daunting task if shoppers are constantly tracking up these surfaces with water and slush from the parking lot. However, placing absorbent mats at the entrance to the store and remaining vigilant about any spills that occur throughout the facility can be helpful.

Next, take appropriate measures to reasonably accommodate those workers who may have special needs. For example, it is likely unwise to demand that elderly workers stock high shelves and workers with poor eyesight be put in charge of navigating carts in the parking lot. Even relatively small risk factors like age, poor sight or fatigue can inspire greater risks of slips and falls if they are unaccounted for.

This season can be both profitable and safe for retail employees as long as employers help to ensure that their heightened risk for trips and falls is properly addressed.

Source: Risk & Insurance, "Wholesale, retail trade workers at higher risk of slips, trips, falls," Dec. 17, 2012

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