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Prioritizing retail worker safety during the holidays

In Florida and across the United States, the holiday shopping season puts many pressures on retail workers. At a time when the unemployment rate is at historic low levels, many retail employers respond to the increased business activity by offering workers overtime pay and bonuses in exchange for longer hours and increased productivity, two factors that result in greater stress.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is calling on retailers to be mindful of how working conditions can impact their workforce during the holidays. Unsafe working conditions and extended shifts, particularly at busy retail warehouses, can increase the potential of workplace injury accidents exponentially, and the added stress of meeting store quotas can result in a flurry of workers' compensation claims by the time January arrives.

Retailers who opt to hire seasonal workers during the holidays should have a training and safety awareness program in place for their temporary workforce. Repetitive stress and crush injuries tend to increase during the holiday shopping rush, and they are more likely to be suffered by new employees who are not familiar with strategies to avoid them.

Temporary workers hired to deal with the busy workload of the holiday season should keep in mind that they have the same legal and OSHA protections as their full-time counterparts. In case of a workplace accident or illness, temp workers should not simply accept workers' compensation if they feel that their employers are not doing their part to avoid OSHA violations; they may want to discuss their situation with a law firm that focuses on workplace injuries. Likewise, retail employers might think about retaining the services of attorneys who can help them with workers' compensation claims and potential lawsuits filed by injured employees.

Source: Sun News, "Retail Worker Safety Over the Holidays", Colin Fluxman, 11/29/2018

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