Retail Workers More Likely to be Injured in January than During Holidays 

21 Nov, 2023 Liz Carey

                               

New York, NY (WorkersCompensation.com) – More workers are injured in January than during the holidays, a new report has found.  

The report, 2023 Retail Risk Report released Friday by AmTrust Financial Services, Inc., found that retail employees were most likely to be injured in January than during November and December the busiest time of the year. Despite being a time when retailers use more seasonal workers, November and December have fewer workers’ compensation claims for that sector, the report found. In fact, the number of injuries claimed for every $100,000 of a retailer’s payroll is 25 percent higher in January than in the holiday months.  

“While one might expect injury rates to soar due to the influx of seasonal workers, there’s a hidden dynamic at play,” Matt Zender, senior vice president, workers compensation product manager at AmTrust, said in a statement. 

Zender said the reason may be due to the age of seasonal workers.  

“Younger workers, who often comprise a significant portion of the seasonal workforce, might choose not to report minor injuries, relying instead on their health insurance or treating them at home,” Zender continues. “This reluctance to engage with workers’ compensation could artificially deflate injury statistics over the holidays.” 

The workers’ compensation insurance provided analyzed more than 42,000 workers’ compensation claims retailers filed with it over a five-year period between 2017 and 2022. The company included convenience/grocery, meat/fish, hardware, furniture, auto parts, beauty/barber, clothing and dry goods stores as retail for purposes of the study.  

The report found that more than a quarter (26 percent) of the claims reported were for strains. Falls were the second most common claims at 19 percent. In terms of claims paid, strains accounted for 29 percent and falls accounted for 27 percent.  

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 2021 and 2022, There were more than 1 million workers’ compensation claims for overexertion, followed by more than 780,000 cases of contact with objects and equipment. Of the total number of worker injuries that required days away from work, 52 percent were from overexertion.  

The report said that motor vehicle accident claims in the retail sector, which are only 2.5 percent of all work-related claims and carry the highest workers’ compensation claims payouts at more than $20,000, are lowest in the retail sector.  

“Relatively few employees drive regularly as part of their job responsibilities in retail,” said Zender. “Nevertheless, businesses are wise to take all the necessary precautions when it comes to deliveries and other driving by retail workers since the pay-out for a strain or fall is between $12,000 and $15,000 – while the average claim payout for motor vehicle accidents is much higher at over $20,000.” 

Retail workers have increasingly come under attack by customers and others.  

An analysis of FBI data by the New York Times, found that between 2018 and 2020, assaults reported to the FBI by law enforcement rose 42 percent overall, but increased by 63 percent in grocery stores and by 75 percent in convenience stores. Of the more than 2 million assaults reported to the FBI by law enforcement agencies in 2020, about 82,000 were at shopping malls, convenience stores and other retail locations. And in 2021, the FBI said that more than half of the active shooter attacks occurred in commerce venues, including stores.  

“Violence in and around retail settings is definitely increasing, and it is a concern,” Jason Straczewski, a vice president of government relations and political affairs at the National Retail Federation, said in a statement.  

According to the National Retail Federation's 2022 Retail Security Survey, 80 percent of retailers surveyed reported incidents of violence and aggression in the past year. Most of it comes from organized shoplifting rings, the organization said.  

"Retailers are seeing unprecedented levels of theft coupled with rampant crime in their stores, and the situation is only becoming more dire," National Retail Federation Vice President of Asset Protection and Retail Operations David Johnson said in a statement. "Far beyond the financial impact of these crimes, the violence and concerns over safety continue to be the priority for all retailers, regardless of size or category." 

In a study by the Jackman Law Firm, general retail stores had the highest increase in injuries and illness from 2017 to 2021, including a gradual increase in workers reporting being violently attacked. In 2017, the violent incident rate was just 4.1 for every 100 workers. By 2021, the incident rate had grown to 5.6 per every 100 workers.  


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    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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