Working retail has some obvious hazards. There is the stress in pulling out two dozen shoes trying to find a style that suits a nervous girl going to her first prom. Or trying to calm a 40-something, overweight executive who insists that all the trousers are marked two sizes smaller than they should be.
Physical dangers also lurk when you work in a retail environment. Taking a health and safety course to learn proper lifting technique, handling machinery carefully and working on good posture can all help minimize the problems. And regular reminders are beneficial in keeping workers alert to common dangers. Toolbox meeting effectiveness training is just as relevant for safety meeting leaders in this environment as it is for construction sites.
Stores are awash in boxes and other types of packaging that bring goods from the factory and warehouse to the store. To get rid of the boxes, most large stores use compactor-shredder machinery for the recycling of cardboard and paper. As handy as this type of equipment is, it is dangerous to operate unless you are property trained.
The material is compacted with powerful ramming devices that crush the cardboard and paper. If you get a hand or other part of your body in the way, you will get seriously injured. The shredders have sharp blades, effective in chopping all types of paper products into small slivers. They also chop body parts with ease.
Anyone operating a compactor-shredder or working close by one needs to be trained on how to use it, and especially how to stop it. A qualified instructor from the manufacturer or one employed by the retail shop needs to teach each employee the safest way to turn it on, operate it and turn it off. Staff who work close by should be shown how to turn it off in case a worker gets caught in the device. The instruction manual should be kept close by for quick reference.
Every shredder comes equipped with a safeguard device that needs to be used and never bypassed. Trying to get around it to speed up the process can easily result in serious injury, including losing a limb. Toolbox meeting effectiveness training can help safety leaders communicate the importance of work-place safety around dangerous machines like the compactor-shredder.
Repetitive Use Injury
Doing inventory, stocking the shelves or folding clothes can easily result in repetitive use injuries, much the same way computer workers get carpal tunnel. Muscles and tendons get strained because they weren’t made for doing the same action over and over again. You can prevent most repetitive injuries by following some simple precautions.
The best way to avoid injury is being aware of your posture and taking frequent breaks to stretch and walk around. When you stand or sit straight, your body is more relaxed. In this natural position, you have much less chance of developing symptoms like pain or numbness, especially in your hands.
Be sure to handle products using your entire hand, not just your forefinger and thumb. Be careful of your wrists when swiping goods on the scanner, putting boxes on shelves, or other repeated actions.
Back injuries are also common for retail workers. Maneuvering large boxes into grocery carts, cars or handcarts takes a toll on the torso. Use proper lifting form by standing close to the bundle you are transferring. Don’t bend over to pick up a load or to put it down. When you lean over, you can easily twist the muscles in your back. Instead, use your legs to squat down and raise back up.
If you need to open boxes with a safety knife, be sure to use it carefully. Since they need to be sharp to open cartons, they can easily cut you as well as the box. Be conscious of what you are doing when slitting open a carton. It’s important for your own safety to avoid distractions. Try putting the box flat on a table or the floor before cutting.
Clean up clutter and spills to avoid falls. Though this is standard policy in public areas of retail establishments to protect customers, it is equally important in areas frequented only by workers.
Be sure to use step ladders made for inventory stocking or getting boxes down from high shelves. Don’t try to step on a chair to reach a box. To avoid falls, move the ladder from one spot to another instead of reaching too far outward.
As safe as a store seems for workers, it is easy to get injured. Using common sense and a few precautions can reduce the physical dangers found in the retail workplace.
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