Safety and Health Risks in the Retail Industry

Working in the retail industry can be rewarding and profitable, but also poses its own set of risks. While some believe a retail business is too risky, others contend that as long as you protect your business from these risks with insurance, you can still run a successful business. Before deciding what business insurance policies to obtain, you should review and consider the biggest risks to your unique business. That said, two primary categories of risks in most industries, including retail, are safety and health.


Fire – The first type of safety and health risk in your retail store is that of fire hazards. You undoubtedly have many different types of fire hazards in your brick and mortar store, including lighting and flammable materials. To mitigate this risk, keep flammable clothing and materials away from heat and light sources.


Poor Air Quality – The air you and employees breathe also poses a health risk in retail outlets. Indoor air pollution, while not as abundant as other environmental settings, may include building materials, furniture, consumer products, cleaning products and even pesticides if you have plants inside your store. Fans, vents and hoods might not be cleaned regularly which can cause illness.


Repetitive Motion Injury – Injuries from poor ergonomics and repetitive motions in the retail injury are also a significant risk. Employees who stock shelves and handle heavy boxes in the warehouse or work at the cash register for 8 hours a day pose this risk. This is a situation where workers compensation insurance is crucial because these risks can’t always be avoided or prevented.


Natural Disasters – Unexpected events and natural disasters like tornadoes, earthquakes and hurricanes also pose a risk to the store and your employees. Some of them get a warning, but not always. Earthquakes tend to come out of nowhere and hurricanes might start as a heavy storm that quickly escalates. Materials in the retail setting could fly around and injure your workers during the natural disaster.


Slips and Falls – Whether employees or customers, another risk in the retail industry that affects people’s safety is slips and falls. This could be from tile or laminate flooring that is too slippery from being waxed or mopped, spills that aren’t cleaned up quickly enough, or merchandise in the aisles or that have fallen from clothing racks and could cause a customer or employee to slip and fall.


Machinery – Keep an eye on machinery like garbage disposals, pulleys, meat grinders, mixers and trash balers as they pose a safety risk to employees who aren’t careful.


Crime – The last major risk in the retail injury is that of crime. Some crimes don’t cause injury to others, but others like theft or vandalism can. Get a commercial crime insurance policy and worker’s compensation to protect employees and customers from such crimes.


Not all risks can be prevented in the retail industry, though you should take steps to avoid them like having security cameras in your store. To protect your business from lawsuits or liabilities as a result of safety and health occurrences, speak to your insurance agent about obtaining business insurance like worker’s compensation, crime insurance, property insurance and general liability insurance.