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Retail trade in Australia employs 11% of the workforce. Every year the industry accounts for about 10,500 serious workers’ compensation claims (8% of all serious claims annually) and six traumatic work-related injury fatalities (2.5% of all traumatic injury fatalities annually).

Retail trade: a definition

Retail trade includes:

  • food retailing including supermarkets
  • motor vehicle and motor parts and fuel retailing
  • other store-based retailing.

Industry snapshot

Between 2001–14:

  • The number of serious claims in retail declined by 21% and the number of serious claims per hour worked declined by 36%.
  • Employment in retail trade increased by 20% and was the second highest employing industry in the Australian economy behind health care and social assistance.
  • 40% of employees in retail trade are under 25 years of age compared with 19% of overall employment. Only accommodation and food services has a higher proportion of young employees.

As well as the large retail chains many workers are employed in small or medium sized businesses.

Shift work and temporary and casual working arrangements are common and a high proportion are young workers. These factors make it important that the risks are well managed, and all workers appropriately trained and supervised.

Main injuries compensated

  • Traumatic joint, ligament, muscle and tendon injuries account for over half of all serious claims in retail trade. Wounds, lacerations and amputations and musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders together account for a further one in three serious claims.

Further advice

SWA is not a regulator and cannot advise you about WHS compliance in the retail trade industry. If you need help, please contact your state or territory WHS authority.



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