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Worker Injury Risk During Holiday Shopping Season

November 30, 2017

Holiday shopping season workplace injuries

Another Black Friday and Cyber Monday has passed, but the holiday shopping season is just beginning. Although crowded stores and the hunt for bargains may be exciting for shoppers, it’s not the case for retail workers. In fact, holiday shopping poses many little publicized risks to workers, which ultimately doesn’t always make it the jolliest season of the year.

To many retail workers, Black Friday means a greater chance of working overnight shifts. And according to the National Institutes of Health, overnight shift injury risks are 30% higher than day shifts. They also reported that work injuries significantly increase for every hour worked in a shift after eight hours. This is especially true for retail employees (current, new and seasonal) working long hours over the course of Black Friday weekend, and for those who work another full-time job and then come to work their holiday job.

Cyber Monday may appear as a less-risk injury period of time because shoppers are primarily purchasing online, but the rise of online shopping has increased the need for delivery drivers. Transportation injuries have their own risks, whether that’s handling the objects being delivered (lifting and potential muscle strains) or transporting packages to their destinations (on the road accidents). And because many delivery drivers are misclassified as independent contractors, they often do not have workers’ compensation protection.

For temporary seasonal workers, there’s an additional risk when work injuries occur. Not only can they not work, but if they also have a full-time job that they’re prevented from returning to because of an injury, now they’re faced with difficult issues maintaining both employment and benefits with their main, full-time employer.

To keep in-store workplace injury risk low during this time of year, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration has a list of safety guidelines to prepare retail stores. The holiday season should not be a reason for workers to be at a higher risk, which is why it’s very important for retail businesses to have a crowd management plan in place. OSHA recommends that retailers’ crowd management plans include barricades and lines away from building entrances and to have security staff on site. In case of large crowds, OSHA also advises to not block or lock exit doors and to stop customers from entering a building once maximum occupancy has been reached. It’s also important that retail businesses implement their own safety measures to protect their employees.

If you’ve been injured on the job this holiday season, we encourage you to reach out to a workers’ compensation attorney so we can work on getting the benefits you deserve immediately. The workers’ comp claims process can be perplexing, and that’s the last thing we want you to worry about during the holidays! Contact Prior, Criner & Edwards Attorneys to schedule a consultation.