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Retailers urged to protect their workers during Christmas period

The Victorian Government has urged retail employers to look after their staff over the busy Christmas period, as more casual workers are employed to meet customer demands.

Over the next 3 months, WorkSafe Victoria inspectors will be visiting retail premises across the state “in a targeted inspection program to crack down on employers who are not meeting their obligations to keep workers safe”.

In its media release, the Government said that inexperienced temporary workers are more vulnerable to workplace health and safety hazards.

Casual workers who may have limited health and safety knowledge can spend long hours on their feet, and be required to lift and handle heavy objects.

They can also be required to work alone, and in customer-facing positions may face violence and aggression from members of the public.

These workers are often managed by people with little experience themselves.

Last year, WorkSafe Victoria visited 166 retail employers in the state between October and December, and issued 72 notices relating to health and safety breaches.

The regulator accepted 2,251 injury claims from the retail sector in the 2018–2019 financial year, up from 2,200 the previous year.

Victorian Minister for Workplace Safety Jill Hennessy said the Government “is determined to ensure everyone’s right to a healthy and safe workplace is protected, including temporary and casual retail employees”.

“Just because Christmas is a busy time of year, it is no excuse to take shortcuts or pressure staff to take unnecessary risks that can cause serious injury or death,” Ms Hennessy said.

“It is also completely unacceptable for customers, even though they may be tired from the demands of Christmas shopping, to treat our hardworking retail workers disrespectfully.”

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