Teenagers in the Workplace: Grocery Store Hazards
For teens just starting to enter the workforce for the first time, their first job might be at their neighborhood grocery store. Pew Research estimated that in July 2020, 24.5% of all employed teens worked in the retail industry. But whether this means ringing up purchases as a cashier, helping to keep shelves stocked, or rounding up shopping carts in the parking lot, there are a lot of safety hazards grocery store employees need to be aware of.
For teens in particular, it’s particularly important to be educated about workplace safety hazards before applying for a job at a grocery store. Younger workers in general tend to have a higher rate of sustaining work-related injuries compared to older workers. Between 1998 and 2007, approximately 795,000 young workers sought emergency treatment for workplace injuries each year. And, even more alarmingly, some research suggests that workplace injuries in young workers may actually be underreported.
So, if you’re a teenager thinking about getting a job at a grocery store, what are the safety risks you should be aware of?
Slip, Trip & Fall Hazards
Grocery stores are full of potential slip, trip and fall hazards. Beverage containers, for example, can break and spill. Or boxes may clutter up an aisleway or stockroom. There are a lot of ways stores can deal with these hazards, such as having policies in place to ensure spills are quickly cleaned up and that stock rooms remain organized and uncluttered. Another thing they can do is place non-slip mats in areas prone to having slippery floors. For extra protection, non-slip shoes can help workers stay safe when floor mats aren’t an option.
Keeping grocery store shelves stocked can be a very tough job and it’s extremely important for stores to train employees on how to do the job safely. This can include training people on how to lift things in a way to prevent injuries, as well as providing things like step-stools to help with stocking high shelves and padding that can be used to make it more comfortable to stock lower shelves.
Parking Lot Accidents
Keeping shopping carts in circulation is a crucial part of grocery store operations, which means someone needs to go out and collect carts that have been left in the parking lot. But as important as this is, people who are tasked with collecting the carts are at risk of being hit by cars while they work. Unfortunately, people very often drive through parking lots faster than they should or aren’t paying as much attention to their surroundings as they ought to be. Stores should be providing employees reflective vests to wear while collecting carts to help them be more visible in the parking lot.
Repetitive Stress Injuries
Sometimes, even things that might not initially seem dangerous can still potentially cause injuries. For example, scanning items at a checkout counter or bagging groceries can lead to repetitive stress injuries because of having to frequently reach for items, place bagged groceries into carts, or scan items. Or, for people who collect carts in parking lots, repetitive stress injuries could come from the motions of frequently moving shopping carts around.
This is a type of injury that training can help with since it gives people the information they need to prevent them. Shopping carts, for example, could be placed in a way so that a bagger doesn’t have to do as much reaching to place bags in a cart and encouraging frequent cleaning of scanners can help prevent having to scan items over and over again. Equipment can also be provided to help with collecting shopping carts to minimize the effort that goes into moving them.
Get Help from a Michigan Workplace Accident Lawyer
If you’ve been injured on the job, it’s extremely important to know your rights. Everyone has a right to work in an environment that’s free of unnecessary hazards. Contact a workplace injury lawyer to find out what your legal options are and to get answers to any questions you have about your situation. At Goodwin & Scieszka, you’ll be able to talk to a Michigan-based lawyer who has helped many other people who have been in your shoes. Contact us today to get started.