‘Tis the season for injuries

The busy holiday shopping season was risky business when it came to workplace injury.
Although 2008 numbers are not yet final, preliminary Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) of Nova Scotia statistics show 565 workers were injured in the retail sector in November and December. On December 23rd, one of the busiest shopping days of the holiday season, 15 people were injured – almost double the daily average.
“Many contributing factors can lead to retail workers getting hurt on the job during the holiday season – from the way work is designed and set up, to increased hours and workload,” said Stuart MacLean, the WCB’s vice-president of service delivery. “That’s why it’s important that employers provide proper safety training, and workers understand their rights and responsibilities.”
In 2007, 287 people were injured in the retail industry in November – a 10 per cent increase over the year’s monthly average. December followed closely with 281 injuries.
Many of those injuries were serious enough that the worker lost time from work. During November and December 2007, there were 141 serious injuries in the retail sector.
In Nova Scotia more young workers are hurt in the retail industry than in any other. Of the 910 serious injuries that occurred in the sector in 2007, more than 200 involved a worker under the age of 25.
“It’s not that retail is necessarily any more dangerous than other industries – it’s just that so many Nova Scotians get their start working in retail,” said MacLean. 
Retail workers often get hurt moving bags, boxes and other materials, using tools and equipment such as box cutters and pallet jacks, and slipping and falling, often caused by spills or other slippery surfaces.

“All injuries are preventable,” said MacLean. “As workers and employers think about what 2009 holds for them, we encourage everyone to make workplace safety a priority.” 
More information about workplace safety in the retail industry can be found in the Health and Safety Guide for New Retail Workers produced by the Retail Council of Canada in partnership with the WCB and the Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Workforce Development.

The guide is being distributed in malls and retail stores and is also available online at www.gov.ns.ca/lwd/healthandsafety/workers.asp.