Retail: Safety basics

Understand the common hazards and risks in retail work, and how to make work safer.



The retail industry is one of Victoria's biggest employer groups. This diverse sector includes large chains, store networks and small businesses, selling anything from clothing or homewares to motor vehicles. Whatever your trade, there are things you can do to make work safer.

  • repetitive work like reaching for stock, scanning items or restocking shelves
  • lifting heavy or awkward objects like boxes
  • using handling equipment such as trolleys or ladders
  • slips on uneven or slippery floors
  • trips over stock stored on the floor or in walkways
  • cuts and burns from food preparation
  • exposure to hazardous chemicals
  • being hit by moving or falling objects
  • work-related stress from harassment, bullying, abusive customers and work pressure
  • falls from heights

Making retail work safer

Our tools and guides can be used to assess and control the specific risks in your workplace.


Involving your employees in health and safety issues can result in a safer workplace. That's why consultation is an important part of risk management. In certain situations employers must consult about health and safety issues with employees and health and safety representatives (HSRs) if they have them. See 'consultation' for detailed information.

Risk management process

  1. Find the hazards in your workplace.
  2. Assess the risks associated with those hazards. You don’t have to do a formal risk assessment if there is already information about the risk and how to control it.
  3. Control the risks.
  4. Monitor and review your risk controls. Revise the controls if they are not working.

Health and safety legal duties

Under Victorian occupational health and safety law, there are specific duties to ensure health and safety in workplaces. For more information about your duties, see occupational health and safety – your legal duties.


Examples of employer duties:

  • For your employees, you must provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and free of risks to health, so far as is reasonably practicable. Employees may include contractors and agency staff.
  • Give your employees the necessary information, instruction, training or supervision to enable them to do their work in a way that is safe and without risks to health.
  • Ensure that the conduct of your business does not endanger other people (including visitors, the public and other workers).
  • Report notifiable incidents to WorkSafe.


Examples of employee duties:

  • Take reasonable care for your health and safety in the workplace. You must also take reasonable care for the health and safety of others who may be affected by what you do or don’t do.
  • Cooperate with your employer about any action they take to comply with the OHS Act or Regulations. For example, use equipment properly, follow safe work policies and procedures and attend training.
  • Don't intentionally or recklessly interfere with or misuse anything at the workplace to support health, safety and welfare.

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