Warehouse and Retail Injuries and Deaths by the Numbers
Working in a warehouse or retail outlet is generally perceived as being relatively safe and statistics mostly support that perception. Despite the low rates however, the absolute number of injuries/illnesses resulting in days away from work (DAW) experienced by workers in this sector exceed the number experienced in any other major sector, including those traditionally recognized as high-risk. The number of fatal injuries in the wholesale and retail trades (WRT) is also relatively high among major industry sectors. Although rates of fatal injury and nonfatal injury/illness in WRT are only slightly higher than the national average, approximately three-quarters of a million wholesale and retail workers suffer injury or illness at work each year.
Events/Exposures Associated with Fatal Injuries in Retail Trade
Of the approximately 400 fatalities that occur each year among retail workers, over half result from assaults and violent acts, another 30% resulted from transportation incidents; 9% from falls; 7% from contact with objects/equipment; 3% from exposure to harmful substances/environments; and 1% from fires/explosions.
Events/Exposures Associated with Fatal Injuries in Wholesale Trade
The leading cause or event associated with fatalities in wholesale trade is transportation incidents (51%). Assaults and violent acts are far less prevalent in wholesale trade, causing about 6% of the approximately 200 workplace deaths per year among wholesalers. Contact with objects/equipment contributed to 23% of the deaths, and falls, exposure to harmful substances/environments, and fires/explosions accounted for 9%, 7%, and 4% of the deaths, respectively.
The occupational groups that accounted for the highest number of fatal injuries in wholesale trade included truck drivers (heavy and tractor-trailer); laborers and freight, stock, and material movers; and nonretail sales supervisors.
Where to Focus
As a whole, transportation-related fatalities are the most prevalent. It is imperative for organizations to have solid driver safety programs in place to address this risk. Be warned that OSHA is even getting involved in distracted driver issues. Go to https://www.osha.gov/Publications/3416distracted-driving-flyer.pdf for more information.
With assaults and violent acts, many employers feel there is little they can do to address these risks. In most workplaces where risk factors can be identified, the risk of assault can be prevented or minimized if employers take appropriate precautions. One of the best protections employers can offer their workers is to establish a zero-tolerance policy toward workplace violence. For more assistance in this area go to http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/workplaceviolence/index.html.
Concerning contact with objects or equipment, employers are encouraged to perform job hazard analysis of the workplace and practices to identify potential hazards and implement hazard prevention practices.
Courtesy of Advanced Safety & Health, LLC www.AdvancedSafetyHealth.com “Where Prevention Beats Treatment Every Time”.