Wholesale and Retail Trade (WRT) jobs are frequently perceived as relatively low-risk work, especially when compared to industry jobs in construction, agriculture, manufacturing, mining, and transportation. This perception is largely borne out when the numbers and rates of illnesses, injuries and deaths from injuries are tabulated and calculated for the entire WRT sector. But a closer look reveals that, each year, the WRT workforce experiences between 500 and 600 fatal injuries and over 800,000 recorded nonfatal injuries and illnesses. The combined WRT workforce of over 21 million faces key risk factors for potentially disabling back and shoulder injuries, and comprises a large proportion of the youngest and oldest workers in the U.S. The WRT sector also includes thousands of small businesses, where safety and health risks often go unrecognized and are rarely discussed. This presents a challenge to researchers, practitioners and policymakers who wish to communicate risk and prevention information. These data suggest that the WRT sector deserves more attention from those concerned with reducing workplace injuries and fatalities.
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