Big Box Store Patron Injured While Moving Patio Equipment

    Retail Safety Expert

    This case involves a woman who was injured trying to lift patio equipment. She went into the outdoor patio department of a discount retailer and asked a sales associate for assistance lifting the equipment into her shopping cart. The sales associate attempted to move the equipment on his own but was experiencing difficulty. The associate then asked the woman to help him lift the equipment. She complied but subsequently injured her lower back, causing long-term medical issues. An expert familiar with patron safety and employee protocols was sought to opine on how this incident could have been avoided.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • 1. Please discuss your background working in a similar big box retail stores.
    • 2. What protocols should have been in place to prevent the injury in question?

    Expert Witness Response E-170402

    I have been a general manager of major big box retailers for almost 20 years. There are many protocols that should have been in place to prevent the injury in question. In a retail environment, there should be a bright yellow-orange team lift sticker on any item that is over 40-50 pounds. Along with this simple warning, each associate in any retail environment should have gone through all required safe lifting training, including classroom or computer training and a demonstration of how to complete a safe team lift on a number of different pieces of merchandise. These lifts are always completed with another associate and never with a customer. Any items that are deemed too heavy or awkward to lift should be moved or transported with forklifts or additional associate support only. During my time as a district safety captain with a large discount retailer, I would complete incident reviews with our third party partners and the retail store team in which customer and associate incidents occurred.

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