In the bustling retail stores of Georgia, especially in the thriving Atlanta-metro area, thousands of young workers embark on their professional journeys. With a lack of experience and often insufficient training, these enthusiastic individuals face higher risks of workplace injuries. From popular department stores to local bookshops, the hazards are real, and the numbers tell a tale of caution.
How safe is working in retail? Insights from the CDC
“The more you know about hazards, the more you can take part in creating a safe work environment. Each year, about 100,000 young workers (16–24 years old) miss work after being hurt on the job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2012, about 23,000 of these young workers—or 1 of every 4—was injured in a retail job.”
Common retail stores in Georgia with a young workforce
If you’re looking to get a job in retail, you have no shortage of options. These are some of the most popular options in Atlanta:
- Big box stores. Places like Walmart and Target are high-volume stores where injuries could occur from heavy lifting or falls.
- Grocery stores. Popular stores like Whole Foods, The Fresh Market, or Trader Joe’s, pose risks ranging from slips on wet floors to cuts from handling equipment.
- Electronics stores. Stores such as HiFi Buys, Best Buy, and A-Z Electronics present hazards like heavy lifting and electrical mishaps.
- Factory outlets. Located just a short drive from Atlanta, these shopping destinations may present risks of injuries stemming from constant standing or improperly secured displays.
Experienced vs. inexperienced workers:
Accidents and training
In the retail industry, experience matters, not only in serving customers but also in recognizing and avoiding potential dangers.
Here’s a comparison:
- Knowledge of hazards. They recognize potential dangers, like wet floors or unstable shelving, making them less likely to be involved in an accident.
- Safety protocols. Adhering to safety guidelines becomes second nature, which helps keep them safer overall.
- Confidence in speaking up. If something seems off, they’re likely to report it, which positively affects the safety of all employees.
Young or inexperienced workers:
- Lack of awareness. They may not recognize what constitutes a risk, making them more vulnerable to injuries at work.
- Limited training. Often, they’re not provided with sufficient safety training, which further increases their risk of a serious accident.
- Fear of asking questions. They may be reluctant to speak up or ask questions for fear of appearing uninformed.
Lack of training is especially detrimental to young workers
Young workers often have higher rates of job turnover, which means employers may be less likely to invest in their training. This lack of training not only endangers the young worker but can also impact the safety and productivity of the workplace as a whole.
Here are just some of the reasons a lack of training can be especially harmful to young workers:
- Inexperience. Young workers often lack the experience and judgment that come with years on the job. Without proper training, they may not recognize the risks or hazards associated with certain tasks, making them more vulnerable to accidents.
- Unawareness of rights. Younger workers may not be aware of their legal rights in the workplace, such as the right to a safe work environment or the right to refuse unsafe work. Lack of training in these areas can leave them exploited or at risk.
- Overconfidence. Some young workers may overestimate their abilities, believing they can handle tasks without the need for guidance or additional training. This overconfidence can lead to mistakes and injuries.
- Peer pressure. Young workers might feel pressure to fit in or prove themselves, making them more likely to take on tasks they aren’t trained for or cut corners on safety protocols.
- Lack of advocacy. In many cases, younger employees might not feel comfortable speaking up about the need for training or safety concerns, making them more susceptible to working in unsafe conditions.
A closer look at common injuries in retail
In a busy retail environment, various types of injuries can occur. These injuries range from minor to severe and can have lasting effects on an employee’s health and well-being.
Understanding these common injuries can help both employers and employees take proactive measures to prevent them:
1. Crush injuries. These can happen when body parts are caught between heavy objects, such as boxes or shelving units.
A worker’s hand getting caught between stacked merchandise.
Workers should receive training on how to handle heavy objects and ensure safe distances.
In the news: 2022 Fatal Crush Injury at Tractor Supply Distribution Center in Macon, GA
A distressing incident at the Tractor Supply Distribution Center has resulted in the tragic death of 55-year-old David Butler. The Macon man was found pinned between a gun safe and a forklift.
Former employees of the center have since raised concerns about working conditions at the facility. They cite poor training, inadequate staffing and a general lack of emphasis on safety measures. Though Tractor Supply insists safety is their number one priority and that they’re cooperating with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) investigation, the loss has brought the issues of workplace safety and training into sharp focus.
No previous OSHA violations have been recorded at this facility since its opening in 2013. The community, along with Tractor Supply, continues to mourn the loss.
The company has provided counselors on site for grieving team members. This incident serves as a somber reminder of the crucial importance of safety training and precautions in the workplace.
Source: 13 WMAZ
Slipping on a wet floor and breaking an arm.
Workers should regularly inspect the floor for spills and use caution signs.
3. Back and neck injuries. Prolonged standing, heavy lifting and repetitive motions can strain these areas.
Lifting heavy merchandise without using proper techniques.
Workers should receive ergonomic training and equipment.
4. Finger and hand injuries. Cuts, sprains and fractures can occur from handling merchandise or using tools improperly.
Cutting a finger while using a box cutter.
Workers should get safety training on the use of dangerous tools and wear protective gloves.
5. Chemical burns. Exposure to cleaning chemicals or other substances can cause skin burns.
Accidental contact with a cleaning solvent.
Workers should read chemical labels before use and wear safety gear.
6. Scalding burns. Hot liquids or surfaces in break areas or food counters can cause these burns.
Spilling hot coffee on oneself.
Workers should ensure proper handling of hot items and adhere to all posted warnings.
7. Eye injuries. Dust, debris or chemicals can injure the eyes.
Splashing cleaning solution in the eye.
Workers should wear protective eyewear and be trained in handling hazardous substances.
8. Violence-related injuries. Retail workers are at risk of various injuries due to assaults by customers.
A frustrated customer punches a worker who refuses to sell them alcohol without an ID.
Workers should be trained on the best way to de-escalate a situation involving agitated or aggressive customers.
9. Repetitive stress injuries. These injuries develop over time from repetitive motions at work.
Using a cash register or scanner all day.
Workers should vary duties and take breaks when possible. They should also use proper ergonomics to reduce their chance of injury.
How workers’ compensation helps injured retail employees
When workplace injuries occur, especially due to a lack of safety training or awareness, workers’ compensation can be a vital support system.
Injured workers don’t need to prove that anyone is responsible for their injuries to receive these benefits. They only need to prove that their injury was the direct result of their job duties or work environment.
Here are some of the workers’ comp benefits you may be entitled to:
- Medical bills coverage. These benefits pay for medical expenses that result from a work-related injury.
- Lost wages recovery. These benefits compensate you for time off work due to your injury.
- Vocational rehabilitation assistance. These benefits provide support for recovering and rejoining the workforce after an injury. In Georgia, employers must provide vocational rehabilitation benefits for catastrophic work injuries. These are injuries so severe that they prevent the employee from performing their work or any other tasks they’re qualified to do.
When the unexpected does happen, workers’ compensation is there to provide support.
Georgia workers’ compensation law has strict guidelines determining how much you can get paid because of a workplace injury.
Steps to file a workers’ comp claim in Georgia
If you’re injured while working retail in Atlanta, you need to take certain steps to obtain benefits:
- The first thing you should do is see a doctor for treatment. Except for emergencies, you’ll be required to see an employer-approved physician.
- Next, make sure to report your injury to your employer within 30 days of your injury or the discovery of your injury.
- Lastly, you must file Form WC-14 with the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation to officially begin your claim.
If you have any trouble with this process or if your claim is denied, contact an experienced work injury attorney for help.
Your rights and compensation are our priority
Injured on the job at a Georgia retail store? Hire our Atlanta job injury attorney.
Navigating the complex legal landscape of workplace injuries can be overwhelming, especially for those new to the workforce. At Gerber & Holder Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in Atlanta, we specialize in assisting retail workers of all ages, whether young and inexperienced or seasoned professionals.
We understand the unique challenges you face in the retail industry, and we’re here to help.
Contact us today, and let us guide you through the process of recovering the maximum benefits for your work injury or assist you with an appeal if your workers’ compensation claim has been denied.