Protecting Your Seasonal Retail and Warehouse Workers During the Holidays

As people increase their shopping during the holiday season, warehousing and stores are preparing for some of the busiest times of the year by hiring temporary or seasonal workers to pick up the slack. While the companies can benefit from the additional resources, these temporary workers are also at an increased risk for workplace injuries.

NIOSH recently posted a couple of interesting articles around worker safety during the holidays. The first is around some of the causes of injuries due to the unique circumstances surrounding holiday work. Of particular concern are:

  • Stress
    • Workers will often work longer or irregular hours during the holidays. This can cause stress by taking them away from their families and eliminating the possibility of their bodies getting proper rest and recovery time.
    • The push for higher productivity mean that workers will focus on moving as fast as possible rather than on performing their tasks safely.
  • Crowds
    • Workers are often not trained on dealing with crowds and this can often lead to altercations as shoppers rush to find their deals.

The second article is around some of the characteristics of temporary workers that lead to an increased risk of injury. Temporary workers often come from three groups that are at higher risk for injury. These groups are Under 25, Female, and Black, Latino and/or Hispanic workers, each of which have different risk factors that contribute to higher injury rates.

How can you make sure that your temporary and seasonal workers stay safe during the holidays?

There are several things that you can do to keep new workers safe. First and foremost, it is important to treat your temporary hires that same way that you would treat your full-time hires. Most notably, you should outfit them with same safety gear, give them the same safety training, and give them access to the same safety equipment and technology as your full-time team members. If you have a safety program that your new hires typically go through, put your temporary hires through the same program.

The holidays can be a stressful time where your company has to be as productive as possible and there may not be time to allot to safety training initiatives for temporary hires. In cases like these, it is important to pay more attention to keeping your seasonal employees safe while they are on the floor. Encourage supervisors to spend more time walking the floor observing and teaching safe behavior in new hires.

Alternatively you can give seasonal employees tech to allow you to remotely ensure that they have a “coach on the floor” and know what movements and positions are unsafe in real time. VIT works with companies to provide New Hire Safety Training programs using the Arc wearable device. New hires are set up with the Arc device and wear it for 2-4 weeks. While on the floor, Arc’s vibrational feedback alerts new hires to unsafe positions and teaches employees to avoid risky movements.

Do you have strategies or techniques you use to protect your temporary hires from injury? Comment below!

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