Managing health and safety can be like a game of snakes and ladders. It takes time, effort and resources to build systems and effectively manage health and safety in a retail work environment.
However, a retail business can be at risk of dropping down the safety ladder in the blink of an eye, particularly in peak trading season.
“The holiday season can be the most dangerous time of year” – WorkSafe Victoria
WorkSafe Victoria highlights that the holiday season is an important time of year for businesses to focus on safety in the workplace. An increase in work demands can result in workers rushing and taking shortcuts to get things done at work. The chances of making a mistake are very high under these conditions and can result in serious injury or workplace fatality.
WorkSafe Victoria has commenced its retail inspection program for the peak season and the ARA has had numerous members reporting that they’ve received visits from Inspectors. Inspectors are looking for evidence that retailers are adequately managing the health and safety of workers during the busy retail period.
To avoid dropping down the safety ladder during the peak season, retailers are urged to focus on the common retail hazards. SafeWork NSW identifies the following as common causes of injuries in the retail trade industry:
- Lifting or moving heavy objects
- Slips and trips
- Falls on the same level and from heights
More specifically, common hazards in the retail industry that require attention include:
- repetitive work like reaching for stock, scanning items or restocking shelves
- lifting heavy or awkward objects like boxes
- using handling equipment such as trolleys or ladders
- slips on uneven or slippery floors
- trips over stock stored on the floor or in walkways
- cuts and burns from food preparation
- exposure to hazardous chemicals
- being hit by moving or falling objects
- work-related stress from harassment, bullying, abusive customers and work pressure
- falls from heights
Another important area to focus on is the increase in workforce to meet retail demands over the holiday season. Retailers tend to take on more employees during the festive season, usually causal employees. During this time, retailers are at risk of not providing the same level of information, instruction, training and supervision to casual workers as would usually be provided. For guidance on the information that should be provided to new workers entering the business, retailers can look to:
- WorkSafe QLD’s Induction Checklist
- WorkSafe Tasmania’s Induction Checklist
- WorkSafe WA’s Checklist for new and young workers – Safety induction