OSH Answers Fact Sheets
Easy-to-read, question-and-answer fact sheets covering a wide range of workplace health and safety topics, from hazards to diseases to ergonomics to workplace promotion. MORE ABOUT >
What are the general duties of someone who works in retail sales and service, or in a similar job that involves working with the public?
Some of the main duties of sales and service personnel in stores, hotels and other locations are to:
- Greet customers and discuss details of the transaction.
- Determine method of payment, and prepare bills, invoices and other documents.
- Assemble displays of merchandise.
- Maintain inventory of merchandise.
- Maintain internal record-keeping systems.
- Working with computers, bar readers and other electronic devices.
- Be aware of customer actions while on the premises (e.g., be alert to potential issues or acts of theft).
What are some health and safety issues for retail sales and service personnel?
- Standing for long hours.
- Exposure to various chemicals and materials, which may include paints, solvents, pesticides, fertilizers, perfumes, or cleaning products.
- Indoor air quality.
- Repetitive manual tasks or working in awkward positions.
- Risk of back injury from pushing, pulling or lifting objects.
- Exposure to extreme temperatures.
- Slips, trips and falls.
- Risk of overhead materials falling.
- Working on ladders or other potentially unstable structures.
- Risk of violent attack.
- Working alone.
- Fatigue or other health effects of shift work or extended work days.
What are some preventive measures for retail sales and service personnel?
- Learn safe lifting procedures.
- Learn fire safety and emergency evacuation procedures, including how to assist customers when evacuating.
- Learn how to use equipment and tools safely.
- Avoid or take frequent breaks from awkward body positions.
- Wear appropriate footwear for your comfort and safety.
- Keep all work areas clear of clutter and equipment.
- Establish good housekeeping practices.
- Learn safe handling and storage procedures before working with chemicals.
- Know how to react in an violent situation.
- Keep a mobile phone or other alternative means to contact a designated person when working alone.
- Do not exceed the capacity of the shelves when storing merchandise.
- Do not block fire-exits and fire-extinguishers.
- Keep a first-aid kit within easy access.
What are some good general safe work practices?
- Practice safe lifting.
- Find ways to minimize musculoskeletal disorders on the job.
- Take all safety precautions when working on ladders.
- Follow or establish safety procedures for working alone, or for avoiding working alone wherever possible.
- Follow company safety rules.
- Learn about chemical safety, WHMIS and MSDSs.
- Know how to report a hazard and near miss.
- Follow good housekeeping procedures.
Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, CCOHS does not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current. CCOHS is not liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the information.