Injury Trends and Future of Retail Work

Bruce Burk

Tampa, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – AmTrust Financial Services recently released a report which showed that the highest workers’ compensation payouts in the retail industry were related to slip-and-falls. It said that the average loss due to injury paid to retail workers is $11,641 for men and $7,030 for women. This was based on a study of 20,000 workers over a two year period. Slips and falls are also a very common form of accident in civil cases as we know from many attorney advertisements.

The study went onto describe that retail industry workers miss an average of 24 for days of work per year due to injuries. That may not sound like a lot but that likely averages in workers who do not have any injuries and thus missed no work.

Not surprisingly falls from ladders or scaffolding showed the highest claim payouts at an average of $21,000 per claim. Other types of accidents such as receptive trauma or car accidents showed lower payouts.

This may be why we are seeing many employers throughout the country adopt work place safety programs. These programs can provide training and safety procedures to attempt to lower exposure to these kinds of accidents.

Many retail accidents can be prevented by requiring employees to wear proper footwear or by placing mats on the floor to prevent slipping. Food retail businesses have the constant concern of food being dropped on the floor and slipped on.

The retail industry is going through significant changes now with the growth of e-commerce. Traditional retail stores are engaged more in direct sales and working with delivery companies like Uber, Amazon, or Door Dash to get their products off the shelves. However, some retailers are more dangerous than others. These include those who sell hardware or industrial parts like Office Depot or Autozone.

Retailers are also going through changes with automation. Companies like Amazon are using machines to handle more and more processes while human employees are in more of a supervisory role.

Slips and falls can involve subrogation claims if they involve a third party. For example, if a contractor comes on the employer’s premises and spills some oil on the floor, the injured worker can sue the third party company in addition to having a workers’ compensation claim.

One good thing about retail companies is that they are typically more likely to have footage of the industrial accident than other kinds of businesses such as a lawn service. This surveillance can go a long way in determining the compensability of the accident and the body parts that were injured.

Based on where the trends are going, many in the retail industry may be categorized as independent contractors. Retail stores may not even exist in a few years and instead we will see warehouses where independent contractors or machines deliver the items to consumers. If this becomes the case we will likely see a sharp decrease in workers’ compensation claims in the retail industry.

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