Suffering a life-altering injury while shopping or working in retail sounds improbable.

But consider the statistics from the U.S. government regarding people who work in retail. The numbers show retail stores taking the place of the assembly line or factory as a leading location of injured American workers.

Tripping, slipping, falling

The most common cause of injuries to retail shoppers is falling, often from slipping on a wet, greasy or powdery floor. In the U.S., falls were responsible for over 10.5 million emergency room visits and over 36,000 accidental deaths in the most recent year with available data.

Other dangers include inadequate stairs and faulty handrails.

Customers and workers face common risks

Retail customers and workers share some of the same risks. Three categories of causes are responsible for roughly an equal number of injuries to retail workers:

  • Overexertion and bodily reaction (repetitive typing or scanning, and strains from lifting or bending)
  • Contact with objects (falling objects, or hands or clothes caught in machines)
  • Falls, slips, and trips

Consumers face this third risk every time they shop in a retail store. And out of 19 private-sector industries, retail workers were the only ones who suffered a rising rate of injuries and illnesses.

Accountability for customer injuries

Holding retailers responsible for shoppers’ injuries is not always easy, but it could help to make retail locations safer for everyone.