Compared to other areas, the retail sector might not seem like a high-risk profession. However, clothing and footwear companies have come under the spotlight, as WorkSafe Australia looks to reduce the number of accidents caused by badly-handled goods.

WorkSafe is now planning to conduct further inspections of health and safety provisions within these operations over the 2014/2015 financial year, in order to reduce injuries. In particular, clothing and footwear workers were at considerable risk of injuries caused by retrieving stock, especially from heights. Improper use of equipment was also a key factor in these workplaces.

In fact, 24 per cent of notices issued during last years inspections related to the improper handling of large or dangerous goods, suggesting that these processes need to be taken more seriously by employers when they train their staff.

New and young workers within this sector have been singled out for special attention within future inspections, with these groups among the most at-risk for injuries in the workplace. 

WorkSafe Director Joe Attard pointed to the considerable increase in injuries within this sector as a key reason for them being targeted over the next 12 months.

"We were concerned to find last year that lost time injuries in clothing and footwear retailing during 2011/2012 had risen sharply from the number recorded in 2009/2010," Mr Attard said.

"It is also a cause for concern that more than a quarter of these injuries were classified as severe (resulting in 60 days/shifts or more off work), an 89 per cent rise in severe injuries between 2009/2010 and 2011/2012."

Companies within this sector need to be sure that they undertake staff inductions properly, especially when it comes to workplace health and safety training. These processes can minimise the risks which new staff members face, especially when it comes to managing a store room or other hazardous area.

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