At first glance, grocery store workers do not seem to face an especially hazardous workplace. In reality, though, these employees engage in heavy lifting, operate power equipment, repeat tasks over and over and work in a fast-paced environment.

All of these actions put retail workers and stocking personnel at risk of significant injury.

Common injuries

An article in Safety and Health Magazine reported that in 2016 retail workers experienced a rate of injury and illness higher than the construction industry. The most common injury occurred to musculoskeletal body parts as the result in many cases of repetitive motions and heavy lifting. Overexertion injuries ranked high on a list of common injuries, as did contact with objects and equipment. Slips, trips and falls in retail environments saw a trend in increased injuries from this category. Though initiatives and improved technology can reduce injuries, the human element remains the most significant factor in workplace injuries. Many trips and falls happened on level surfaces and did not include falls from ladders.

High rate of injuries

The Los Angeles Times, citing the Bureau of Labor Statistics, reported that 3.5 retail workers out of every 100 suffered some form of injury in 2018. Though the report did not specifically cite grocery store workers, it did show that the trend for injuries for retail workers increased from 2017 to 2018. Home furnishing stores, pet stores, supercenters and tire outlets reported some of the highest rates of injuries. The most common injuries included sprains and tears, overexertion and general soreness. A higher rate of injuries spiked upward in nearly all categories of retail workers, according to the study.