Reduce Store Injuries and Liability with Occupational Safety Courses

May 29, 2019

Food recalls, profit gains and losses, employee retention—these are common concerns for independent grocers. On-the-job fatalities and severe injuries, not so much. But while little bizarre accidents may seem improbable, a 2017 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in reality there are nearly three injuries and illnesses per 100 employees in private industry businesses, meaning independent retailers must take proper safety precautions to avoid feeding that statistic.

Take the example of ladders. Falls from portable ladders are one of the leading causes of occupational fatalities and injuries, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). “Each year, over 160,000 people are injured as a result of falls from ladders due to not following safety precautions,” per the American Ladder Institute (ALI), and more than 300 of those injuries result in death.

Another example is knowing what to do to keep employees and customers safe during severe weather. The Cornell’s IGA team was prepared when a tornado tore through Shelby, Ohio this April, knowing to rush staff and shoppers to the coolers for safety. Does every employee of your store know where to go in severe weather, how to account for all on-site personnel, and address hazardous materials?

While IGA storeowners and managers want to keep their staff and customers safe, investing in employee training can be expensive. However, OSHA reports show that “grocery stores that have implemented injury prevention efforts have said they have successfully reduced work-related injuries and workers’ compensation costs. Many times, these efforts have reduced injuries and led to increased worker efficiency and lowered operating costs.”


Ana Velazquez, the learning solutions director for the IGA Coca-Cola Institute, says that safety training is an important subject for the Institute. “For the retailers, it’s a ‘no brainer’ to do safety training,” she says. “However, it may be overwhelming to address all the different aspects of safety training.” That’s why the Institute offers a series of store safety courses for employees and managers, ranging from 10 minutes to one hour. Some of the courses include:

  • OSHA Hazard Communication Standards
  • Lockout-Tagout
  • Bloodborne Pathogens
  • Store Safety–Cleanliness & Sanitation
  • Store Safety–Fire Prevention
  • Store Safety–Floor Monitoring
  • Store Safety–Promotions & Committees
  • Store Safety–Reporting & Investigation
  • Store Safety–Severe Weather

Velazquez suggests starting with store safety courses, then moving into the new ladder safety courses developed by the American Ladder Institute, which she says is the most reputable organization in ladder safety. “It is the first time they shared the content with an external organization,” she says.


The ALI’s goal is to promote the safe use of ladders by creating and sharing safety standards and educating the public on these safety measures. Available in English or Spanish, each Institute course on ladder safety lasts between 15 and 25 minutes and includes a multiple choice quiz at the end of the course. Participants must receive at least 90 percent on a quiz to pass the course.

The ALI recommends that IGA stores encourage all employees who use or handle ladders take these courses, as they may reduce insurance premiums and liabilities for the retailer.

The courses are:

  1. Articulated ladders safety training
  2. Mobile ladder stands and platforms safety training
  3. Single and extension ladders safety training
  4. Stepladders safety training

“Ladders are useful tools that, when used properly, serve as a safety system for climbing,” says the ALI. “Working at an elevated height is, however, inherently dangerous, and the safety afforded by a ladder is often circumvented by misuse.”

In each course, participants will learn how to maximize safety when using the featured ladder and the proper techniques to select, inspect, care for, and use the ladder(s).

Selecting a Ladder

Participants will learn how to choose a type of ladder based on: materials, weight, and size. For example, if the job requires the use of electrical power tools or is near a source of electricity, you should not use an aluminum or steel ladder, as they can conduct electricity, which could trigger a fall or result in your heart stopping.

Inspecting a Ladder

From ensuring there are no environmental hazards before starting work with a ladder to recognizing when a ladder is broken and ready to be disposed of, these courses will teach participants how to inspect the work site and ladder to ensure they are both in optimal condition.

Caring for a Ladder

Different ladders require different techniques for safely transporting and carrying the ladders. These courses will teach viewers how to carry and secure ladders to vehicles, clean and lubricate hinges, and more to ensure a long life for each type of ladder.

Using the Ladder

From ensuring the ladder has the proper feet to knowing what angle to position various ladders, participants will learn how to safely use each type of ladder from set-up to take-down and storage.

Each retailer may have one or more types of ladders, so it’s important for employees to watch each course that pertains to the types of ladders in your store to prevent injuries. Register for the courses at

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