Around 75,000 South Australians work in the supermarket sector. Some of the most prevalent injuries sustained for supermarket workers are related to muscular stress arising from handling, lifting, carrying or putting down objects.

Common hazards

Common hazards that workers in supermarkets are exposed to include:

  • demanding customers
  • long hours standing
  • sustained awkward positions
  • lifting and moving heavy objects
  • exposure to vibration
  • irregular shift work
  • working alone
  • being hit by mobile plant.

Safety solutions

Where possible employers should use controls to eliminate or minimise the risk of injury. Always ask workers for input on identifying health and safety risks and when designing solutions.

Lifting & manual handling

Controls may include:

  • use mechanical lifting aids/equipment
  • providing training to ensure lifting aids/equipment are used correctly
  • training workers in proper manual lifting techniques
  • ensuring workers are not exposed to repetitive or high impact work for long periods of time
  • ordering stock in smaller volumes that are easier to store and lift.


Controls may include:

  • designing the store so it limits the need to push, pull or carry equipment or loads
  • positioning shelving and racking in storage areas at accessible heights
  • installing service counters and food preparation surfaces that are between hip and waist height.

Other controls

Other risk controls include:

  • keeping trolleys and other equipment well maintained
  • using ladders/stepladders for low-risk and short-duration tasks
  • ensuring tasks performed on ladders can be completed whist maintaining 3 points of contact with the ladder
  • ensuring traffic management and appropriate PPE (Hi Vis) is in place where mobile plant is used eg forklifts, pickers
  • ensuring appropriate training are in place for workers who are required to work alone
    • workers are trained to act in accordance with emergency procedures
    • there are appropriate security measures (eg back doors are locked, access to phones)
    • there is appropriate 'after hours' lighting
    • assigning someone to check on workers working alone.

Independent retailers

South Australia's independent supermarket workforce is the highest (percentage) of any state. Many of SA's independent supermarkets are small business so we are working with them to:

  • provide information addressing common hazards and incidents to help the sector best meet work health safety requirements
  • develop easy-to-use work health and safety tools to support onsite self-assessment and management of hazards
  • encourage participation and contribution at industry workshops aimed at reducing injury rates.