Workplace injuries in U.S. down again, except in retail

be careful out there
Bureau of Labor Statistics chart.
be careful out there
Bureau of Labor Statistics chart.

Working retail can be a dangerous job.

Retail trade was one of only 19 industries where workplace injuries and illnesses went up in the U.S. in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The number of retail trade injuries and illnesses rose 4 percent, to 409,900, and about one third of those involved missing at least one day of work, according to data released last month. The most common injuries were “strains, sprains and tears,” though 2018 also saw an eight-year high in “falls, slips and trips.”

The data covers retail stores, and not warehouses like Amazon’s, where working conditions have come under increased scrutiny.

It was the first time since 2003 that the rate of retail trade injuries increased, according to the BLS.

General merchandise stores reported the most retail trade injuries or illnesses, at 96,000 cases. That was followed by food and beverage stores (92,600), motor vehicle and parts dealers (61,500)  cases, and building material and garden supply stores (53,800).

Salespersons were the retail trade employees injured or ill most often, followed by first line supervisors and stock clerks.

Although not growing as rapidly as in prior years, retail employment continued to increase in 2018. Research from the National Council on Compensation Insurance indicates job growth leads employers to hire less experienced staff.

But a workplace safety expert told the trade journal HR Dive that rapid growth means more retailers who are unfamiliar with federal safety laws.

There were 2.8 million workplace injuries for the private sector as a whole, which was essentially no change from 2017.

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson has been writing about Nevada policy and politics for more than 20 years. He was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and wrote the then-groundbreaking Las Vegas Gleaner, which among other things was the only independent political blog from Nevada that was credentialed at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He spent a few years as a senior energy and environmental policy analyst for Public Citizen, and has occasionally worked as a consultant on mining, taxation, education and other issues for Nevada labor and public interest organizations. His freelance work has been published in outlets ranging from the Guardian to Desert Companion to In These Times to the Oil & Gas Journal. For several years he also taught U.S. History courses at UNLV. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and then assistant managing editor at the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming’s largest newspaper.