Traditionally retail is not viewed as a high-risk sector and it is not specifically targeted specifically in any Health and Safety Authority compliance inspection programmes.
The retail sector comes under NACE category G, "Wholesale/ retail trade; repair of vehicles, personal and household goods". This sector recorded three fatalities in 2006, making it the fifth largest sector for fatalities that year.
Two of these accidents particularly related to construction activities. The accident triggers were a) fall from a height, b) loss of control of a machine and c) other. One accident involved a member of the public, and one worker fatality was to a non-Irish national (other EU).
There were four fatalities in 2003, four in 2004, and eight in 2005.
Causes of accidents
The proportion of accidents due to manual handling is particularly high in the wholesale and retail trade (47%). Injury arising from "manual handling" includes 'lifting and carrying', 'pushing and pulling' and 'twisting and turning of the body' is much more significant in this sector.
Wholesale and retail also suffers a high proportion of incidents associated with 'mobile handling devices' such as barrows and pallet trucks (9%) and 'objects and packaging in storage areas' (9%).
The second most frequently reported accident trigger is 'slips, trips, falls'. This trigger accounts for over 17% of all accidents reported from this sector. Together, 'manual handling' and 'slips, trips, falls' triggered over 60% of all the reported accidents in 2006. Also the proportion of sprain and strain injuries is over 40% in the wholesale and retail trade.
Understanding a complex sector
When considering the retail sector, one must remember that there are many subcategories of retail where particular risks may be quite different, e.g. the risks will vary substantially between a pharmacy and an off-licence, between a newsagents and an electrical shop.
In some cases it may prove necessary to produce very specific sectoral guidance.
In December 2005 the HSA commissioned a national survey of Micro Businesses (with under 10 employees) in the retail sector. This information may be of assistance in formulating strategies to effect improved safety and health across the entire retail sector. Read more about the survey.