What to do after a grocery store injury or incident
Over the past couple of years, the phrase “essential workers” has become more commonplace and grocery store workers have been categorized as such. However, long before the pandemic, grocery employees were just as essential to keeping the nation’s food supply running. They often work long hours in tough conditions, and we believe it’s important to take steps to prevent accidents and help people know what to do when an injury occurs.
People employed in the grocery industry represent a significant amount of the workforce in Georgia. While you might not notice it when you are at a grocery store, it’s likely that many people in your community serve in these essential roles.
For example, Publix employs over 200,000 people throughout the United States, and many of these associates work in Georgia and Florida. Kroger has over 27,977 employees in Georgia alone, and Piggly Wiggly is another major employer. With so many people working these jobs, it’s important to talk about what to do if a grocery store employee gets hurt on the job.
What are typical jobs within grocery stores?
Cashiers are one of the most common and visible positions that you’ll see people working in at grocery stores. However, there are many other people working behind the scenes in the back areas where they are less noticeable.
For instance, most grocery stores have a bakery and deli department with staff on hand. There are also warehouse workers and stockers who help to unload truck deliveries and move the stock to the grocery store shelves. Each of these types of employees is eligible to file for workers’ compensation if they get hurt while they are working.
What are common injuries among grocery employees?
Grocery store workers are exposed to a wide range of hazards throughout the course of a normal workday.
Slip-and-fall accidents are common on slick grocery floors. Not only do jars of food and drinks occasionally get spilled by customers on the main floor, but deli cooks and warehouse staff can also encounter wet conditions that increase the risk of them falling down.
A slip-and-fall accident can easily lead to head injuries that could cause damage to the brain. In some cases, this might lead to memory loss and other cognitive changes that make it difficult to continue to perform a person’s regular job duties. Hitting the ground or nearby objects at work can also cause a person to hurt their neck, back or shoulders.
Many reported injuries relate to overexertion and sprains from heavy lifting. Stockers may hurt themselves unloading large pallets of heavy merchandise, especially if they aren’t taught proper lifting practices or given enough support from other team members to make moving large objects safer. Heavy lifting often leads to severe back pain that could be caused by serious issues such as a herniated disc or strained muscle. If an injury is severe enough, then it could require long-term therapy or surgery to help a person heal properly.
Repetitive actions are often required in many grocery store positions that increase the risk of someone pulling a muscle or straining a joint. Repetitive stress injuries are among the most common issues that arise for grocery store employees. Cashiers frequently perform the same movements over and over again to perform price scans and bag groceries. Shoulder pain is a serious sign that a chronic repetitive stress injury is developing, and it’s important to always make sure to check out new or unusual symptoms.
Being hit by a falling object is another constant threat for any employee who works in areas with large storage racks or shelves.
What rights do Georgia grocery store employees have regarding workers’ compensation?
A vast majority of full-time, part-time and seasonal grocery workers in Georgia are eligible for workers’ compensation from the first day they begin working.
As a grocery store employee, you have the right to file a claim if you receive an injury at work. You are eligible to file your claim even if you believe that you are fully or partially at fault for the accident.
In many cases, you may have been exposed to hazardous work conditions that were beyond your control, and your employer has a responsibility to make sure that you receive compensation for your injuries.
What should you do after an injury on the job?
Grocery store employees should notify their employer (such as a shift leader, manager or supervisor) as soon as possible after an injury. When filing a workers’ compensation claim, you may have a limited amount of time to make your injury known.
Typically, the maximum deadline for notifying your employer is 30 days, but it might be longer in the case of injuries that require time to present symptoms. You’ll also need to seek a diagnosis and treatment from an authorized treating physician. Your employer should issue a list of approved doctors that you can choose from.
Depending on your injury, you may need to seek treatment from other medical providers. After making your injury report, it’s best to begin working with a Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer who can help you follow each step in the process and make sure your treatment is covered.
As a grocery store worker, you likely do everything you can to maintain a safe work environment. Yet, accidents can and will happen on the job. When they do, you’ll want to make sure to seek compensation for your recovery period.