How to avoid injuries in shops

During the course of 2010-2011, the aggregate cost to UK society of all the employee fatalities, injuries and work-related illnesses in the wholesale and retail sectors was an astronomical £1,366,000,000. Yes that’s right – you did read it correctly – £1,366,000,000 ! Bearing in mind that the vast majority of these workplace injuries were avoidable, a person is quite justified in asking why they actually occurred.

Under current UK health and safety regulations an employer is legally obliged to operate a risk management system that will identify who, amongst their staff, is at risk, the extent and severity of the risks to which they are exposed and what steps can be taken to remove or reduce those risks. The employer must then take those steps unless the cost of doing so is markedly disproportionate to the level of risk, i.e. a very low risk that will cost a lot of money to address.

Listed below are the most commonly suffered injuries in retail environments and next to them suitable controls for eliminating or reducing as far as possible the risk of them occurring.

Work related musculo-skeletal injuries and disorders – All employees trained in safe manual handling techniques. All employees trained in health and safety awareness.

Fractures, bruises – All employees trained in safe working at height techniques and adequate equipment provided to ensure that safe working. A safe system of cleaning and inspection to avoid spillages that occur causing slip, trip and fall injuries. A tidy working environment with no boxes, pallets, packaging or goods left lying about to cause trips. A well maintained floor surface with no frayed or holed carpeting, unnecessarily smooth surfaces. Outside ensure that any tarmac is smooth with no potholes and that ice and snow risks are addressed.

Cuts and lacerations – Ensure that faulty or damaged shelving or racking is replaced to avoid sharp or jagged parts injuring employees. Clean up any broken glass immediately after any breakage occurs.

Vehicle related work crush and impact injuries  – Ensure staff trained in safe working practices with regard to forklifts, moving through parking areas and working in loading/unloading bays.

Work related musculoskeletal injuries and disorders – All employees trained in safe manual handling techniques. All employees trained in health and safety awareness.

Fractures, bruises – All employees trained in safe working at height techniques and adequate equipment provided to ensure that safe working. A safe system of cleaning and inspection to avoid spillages that occur causing slip, trip and fall injuries. A tidy working environment with no boxes, pallets, packaging or goods left lying about to cause trips. A well maintained floor surface with no frayed or holed carpeting, unnecessarily smooth surfaces. Outside ensure that any tarmac is smooth with no potholes and that ice and snow risks are addressed.

Cuts and lacerations – Ensure that faulty or damaged shelving or racking is replaced to avoid sharp or jagged parts injuring employees. Clean up any broken glass immediately after any breakage occurs.

Vehicle related work crush and impact injuries –  Ensure staff trained in safe working practices with regard to forklifts, moving through parking areas and working in loading/unloading bays.

Looking after the health and safety of employees isn’t rocket science, it’s definitely not optional and if an employer is negligent in discharging this duty of care, the cost in lives and health, not to mention the incredible economic cost we started with can be truly horrendous.

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