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Retail worker safety during the holiday season

Whether it's selling merchandise, packing boxes, stocking shelves or delivering products, retail workers in New Jersey have a lot on their plates during the holiday season. This is why OSHA is reminding retail employers to pay attention to workplace safety and be mindful of employee payments, especially during a time when it's common to rack up overtime hours.

While extra hours can mean a much-appreciated boost in earnings, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that lost sleep and family time can significantly impact an employee's health and well-being. In fact, nearly a quarter of all employees surveyed in 2016 reported that work obligations interfered with personal and family responsibilities. Workplace stress also increases the risk of experiencing the type of injuries that may result in workers' compensation claims and days missed from work.

NIOSH recommends that employers have plans in place to reduce stress for retail workers as much as possible by creating safe and supportive worksites. Such efforts may include taking steps to manage large holiday crowds, particularly during sale events, and being proactive about addressing holiday safety hazards created by weather and high foot traffic. NIOSH also suggests that retailers consider hiring trained safety personnel during the holidays and strategically placing barricades or rope lines to manage crowds.

It's also advised that retail employers ensure that temporary seasonal workers are treated the same as full-time workers. This extends to workplace safety and health. Hiring spikes during the holiday season sometimes result in issues with payment and scheduling, especially if certain employers aren't accustomed to hiring seasonal or part-time employees.

If any type of retail worker is injured during the holidays while on the job, the typical first step is to report the incident. Should it be necessary to file a workers' compensation claim, an attorney may get involved to help facilitate the process for the injured employee.

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