Common causes of injuries in shops

It would obviously be commercial suicide for shops to deter customers from entering and purchasing due to having a reputation for being dangerous places to shop and work. That’s one very good reason for the owners of shops to ensure that their retail outlets are as safe as possible, both for their customers and employees. Another very good reason is that shop owners have a legal duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees. They also owe shoppers a common duty of care.

Thus a poor health and safety record can become a true kiss of death to any retailer, as trade withers and they expose themselves to prosecution by the Local Authority and have to defend claims for compensation brought by customers and staff alike. A ‘perfect storm’ indeed and one which the vast majority of retail businesses avoid by assiduously carrying out their responsibilities under the relevant health and safety legislation and in the case of their customers’ safety, The Occupiers Liability Act 1957.

Where injuries do occur in the UK retail sector, and unfortunately they do in quite large numbers annually, they predominantly fall into two main categories:

1) Musculoskeletal injuries, often due to incorrect manual handling techniques.

2) Bruising, fractures, cuts, sprains and strains injuries caused by slips, trips and falls type injuries, mainly due to staff/customers slipping on wet or contaminated floors or tripping over boxes or pallets or other packing material or goods.

Additionally there are a host of other hazards that need to be risk controlled to prevent accidents and injuries, including tragically, fatalities, from occurring. These include:

• Falling objects in storage areas or from poorly stacked shelves which cause impact trauma such as bruising, fractures or concussion.

• Sharp objects such as broken glass or fittings or power tools, which can cause laceration or puncture wounds.

• Falls from height when stacking shelves or storing stock causing a range of mild to serious injuries.

• Vehicle (including forklift truck) related injuries in car parks or loading bays causing impact and crushing injuries.

• Working with hazardous products which can cause work related dermatitis, burns or poisoning.

• Violence from customers, which if not expertly defused, can lead to bodily harm to an employee.

Regardless of the goods sold, and some goods will need very specific risks controlling, every shop should have a functional safety management system and be a safe environment to work or shop in – or risk accident claims from workers and shoppers alike.

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