A young man wearing an apron stands near a cash register in a market.


If you are a worker under age 25, you are more likely than more experienced workers to be injured. Most people think that retail is a safe place to work, and mostly it is. However, each year thousands of young retail workers are injured, and some even die. To protect yourself and others, you need to know these facts:

  • Retail workplaces may have hazards that could injure you or make you ill.
  • You can learn to identify and even prevent potential work hazards.
  • Your supervisor should help you to stay safe by giving safety training in a language and words that you can understand.

What is Retail?

A retail business sells items directly to the people who use them. These are some examples of retail items and stores:

  • Beverages and specialty food
  • Building materials
  • Department stores
  • Home centers
  • Motor vehicles and parts
  • Nurseries/gardening supplies
  • Pet supplies
  • Sporting goods, hobbies, books, and music
  • Supermarkets and smaller groceries
  • Tire and auto stores
  • Warehouse clubs and superstores

Is it Safe to Work in Retail?

Every workplace, including retail, has hazards. However, you will be safer if you become familiar with the information included here.

The more you know about hazards, the more you can take part in creating a safe work environment. Each year about 100,000 young workers (16–24 years old) miss work after being hurt on the job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2012, about 23,000 of these young workers—or 1 of every 4—was injured in a retail job.

Injuries happen for many reasons. Young workers don’t always get enough training. They don’t always know what questions they should ask to stay safe. Sometimes they are asked to do jobs they’re not supposed to do (by law). However, if you become familiar with the best practices described here, you will be able to recognize potential hazards at your workplace and to work safely.

Retail Worker Topics

Find Out More

Three picture grouping: A young man, who is a cashier, returns a customer’s credit card at the checkout counter of a jewelry store. Female florist. Two young women stand at a cosmetology store checkout register.

MMWR: Occupational Injuries and Deaths Among Young Workers, 1998 – 2007

NIOSH Safe • Skilled • Ready Workforce Program

OSHA Workers’s Rights

OSHA Safe Work for Young Workers

NIOSHTIC 2 Database Search
This link provides the results of a search of the NIOSHTIC-2 database for citations and abstracts of NIOSH documents related to young workers and retail.


BLS [2015]. Industries at a glance: retail trade. NAICS 44-45. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Breslin C, Koehoorn M, Smith P, Manno M [2003]. Age related differences in work injuries and permanent impairment: a comparison of workers’ compensation claims among adolescents, young adults, and adults. Occupational and Environmental Medicine 60(9):6.

Management Study Guide [2016]. Understanding retail—what is retail?

NIOSH [2015]. Workplace safety and health topics: young worker safety and health. Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

NIOSH [2012]. Are you a teen worker?. Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2012-130; supersedes 2011-184.