Young Workers: Retail

A retail business sells items directly to the people who use them. This can include anything from specialty food stores, department stores, or auto stores. Most people think that retail businesses are safe places to work, and mostly it is. However, each year thousands of young retail workers are injured, and some even die. The more you know about hazards, the more you can take part in creating a safe work environment.

In 2020, about 142,000 young workers (16–24 years old) missed work after being hurt on the job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with almost 1 of every 5 young worker injured in a retail job.1

  • Retail workplaces may have hazards that could injure workers or make them ill.
  • Employers and workers can identify and prevent potential work injuries and illnesses.
  • A supervisor should help workers to stay safe by giving safety training using a language and words that young workers can understand.

Tips to Avoid Retail Hazards

Employers can share the following information with young workers:

Slips, Trips, and Falls
  • Slips, trips, and falls are common causes of injuries in retail stores. Learn more about this retail hazard.
  • Watch for cluttered or obstructed walkways. Stay within the designated walk areas, if possible.
Equipment, Tools, and Supplies
  • Follow all warning labels and signs on equipment and posted in the workplace.
  • Knives and box cutters can cause serious injury. Always cut away from your body. Personal protective equipment, like mesh gloves, can protect your hands.
  • Stack materials carefully so that they won’t slide or fall.
  • Know what is going on in the surrounding area. Look out for people, boxes, forklifts, and other moving objects in your work area.
  • Equipment can be noisy. If working in a noisy area, use hearing protection like earplugs, or earmuffs if needed.
  • Talk to a supervisor if there is a potential hazard or a situation that is uncomfortable.
  • Pace yourself to avoid muscle strain or another injury.
  • When lifting heavy or awkward objects:
    • Keep the item close to your body.
    • Avoid twisting and bending while lifting.
    • Keep your back straight and lift with your legs.
    • Remind young workers they:
      • Can get help from someone who knows more about the job. That person might know of tools or equipment that can be used to help lift or carry something heavy.
      • Can get someone to help pick up or carry heavy items. That divides the weight between two people, making it easier and safer to lift.
      • Can talk with a supervisor if a box or container seems too heavy or awkward to lift. There may be, other ways of doing that job, or other jobs you could do that do not involve heavy lifting.
  • Employers should:
    • Keep windows from being covered up by signs or displays.
    • Make sure the place you work is well lit inside and out.
    • Make sure alarms and cameras work.
    • Inform their staff about the security and safety plan.
    • Make sure all workers know which doors should stay locked. Check those doors often.