The Wholesale and Retail Trade (WRT) sector is one of the largest sectors in the economy. In 2008, there were some estimated 22 million workers in the Wholesale and Retail Trade (WRT) sector, second only to the service sector. While the injury rates may be low, the number of injuries is significant just by virtue of the size of the workforce. Improved safety measures can therefore have a significant impact on reducing worker injuries.
The WRT is also one of the most diverse workforces and sub-sector workplaces. The workforce includes old workers, young workers, full-time workers, part-time workers, seasonal workers, experienced workers, and inexperienced workers. The sub-sector businesses include everything from mail-order houses, small "mom and pop" stores, conveniences stores, gas stations, all the way up to large retail store chains.
The majority of WRT injuries fall into four main categories. These include musculoskeletal injuries, fall and contact related injuries, motor vehicle related injuries, and work place violence. There are other issues as well. Approximately 85% of WRT companies are small businesses that lack the staff and resources of larger companies. Therefore, in addition to these four focus areas, special attention needs to be paid for small businesses.
This paper will present the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics and surveillance data. The safety issues in the four main categories and other safety will be discussed. Safety measures that can be taken to reduce or eliminate injuries and fatalities will be presented.