As Victoria’s retail sector heads into its busy Christmas and January sales period, employers and employees are being reminded to pay attention to workplace safety.
Victorian WorkCover Authority (VWA) inspectors have begun visiting retail stores across the state to talk to managers and staff about the risks associated with this busy time of year. In particular, they will pay attention to poor manual handling practices, which accounted for 56.4 per cent of all workplace injury claims in the retail sector in 2013-14.
VWA Head of Operations and Hazardous Industries, Melinda Collinson, said the message to retailers was to make safety top of mind over the busy sales period.
Handling boxes, cartons, and other materials, and using ladders, is a normal part of a retail employee’s day, Ms Collinson said. But this sort of work accounts for many injuries, such as back complaints, joint, muscle, and soft tissue problems and bone fractures.
As a result, VWA inspectors will be focusing closely on proper housekeeping, ladder safety, stock storage and management, and the importance of staff training.
Almost eight retail workers were injured every day in Victoria, Ms Collinson said, and at this time of year, young and new employees were particularly vulnerable.
Many businesses put on Christmas casuals for the summer months, so it’s particularly important that young and new employees receive appropriate training and supervision, she said. They should also be encouraged to speak up if they are uncertain about how to do something safely.
Ms Collinson urged every workplace to take a proactive approach to identifying and fixing safety issues, such as:
- Using height adjustable trolleys for moving, loading and stacking heavy items.
- Storing high turnover products between knee and shoulder height for easy access.
- Providing enough space between aisles and corridors for people and equipment.
- Providing suitable ladders for employees to retrieve goods on shelves and make sure they are trained to safely use these ladders.
- Never handling heavy, bulky or awkward objects while on steps or ladders.
- Making sure in-store and back-of-store areas are free from clutter and excess stock.
- Never climbing on chairs, table, racking or shelving to reach items at height.
For more information on retail safety, go to vwa.vic.gov.au/retail