US retail industry experienced 262 fatal occupational injuries in 2012; injury and illness rate for retail workers was four per 100 full-time workers, compared with 3.4 rate for all other private-sector employees during same period: Dept. of Labor

HONOLULU , April 15, 2014 (press release) – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration is launching a local emphasis program to prevent retail sector injuries and fatalities in Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands.

"We are not in the business of waiting to act only after a preventable injury or fatality occurs. Retail employers and workers need to be aware of hazards and risks commonly found in this industry," said Mike Rivera, acting area director of OSHA's Honolulu Area Office. "Stores must be safe for customers to shop and for employees to work."

The retail industry experienced 262 fatal occupational injuries in 2012. The injury and illness case rate for retail workers, including in the Pacific, was four per 100 full-time workers, compared with a 3.4 rate for all other private sector employees during the same period.

OSHA will conduct inspections to identify and evaluate hazards within the retail industry in Hawaii and the Pacific islands and territories. Targeted operation sites, such as clothing stores, department stores, general merchandise stores and other miscellaneous retailers, can expect random inspections. OSHA also will respond to complaints, referrals and fatalities related to retail operations.

Federal OSHA inspections at retail stores in the Pacific routinely find numerous safety or health hazards that result in serious violations. Cited safety and health violations generally relate to electrical hazards, unsafe merchandise handling, transportation hazards, fire hazards, exposure to harmful substances, or improper design, construction and maintenance of exit routes. Violations also relate to hazards that, if left unchecked, can lead to falls, slips and trips, struck-by objects or amputations.

Employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards may call OSHA's Honolulu Area Office at 808-541-2680. Small businesses may request free assistance from the Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Consultation Program at 808-586-9100, or by email at dlir.hiosh@hawaii.gov.

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