The future of the (e)retail sector from an occupational safety and health point of view

E-retail is convenient, economical and empowering for the purchaser.
For the seller, it presents numerous challenges, with additional logistics
required to deliver goods directly to customers' doors, tight profit margins
driven by easy access to online price comparisons, and the pressure to provide
a positive customer experience. Despite the challenges, e-retail is an established
success, consistently outstripping growth in ‘high street' retail. In order to
meet the challenging demands of customers, e-retailers are increasingly
automating, using a ‘gig economy' workforce and minimising costs throughout
their businesses. The drive for efficiency can arguably compromise the working
conditions of the workforce. Numerous mainstream media articles have exposed
challenging working conditions associated with e-retail, including high picking
rates and long walking distances in distribution centres; extended working
hours; and compromises to worker health and wellbeing. a recently on OSHwiki
published article discusses some of the possible occupational health implications
for the e-retail workforce of the future.

The authors conclude that the requirement for both fast and cheap e-retail
fulfilment may inevitably create compromises in task design, and this in turn
will result in increased exposure of the workforce to risk. The development of
e-retail, and increased efficiencies, can result in humans ‘filling the gaps'
in automation by performing fast-paced, long-duration, high-risk jobs which
could compromise workers' musculoskeletal and psychosocial wellbeing.

Proactive management of health and safety is an essential role in enabling the
growth of e-retail, and should be accepted by, and promoted within, the
e-retail sector. Thankfully, an increasing number of established toolkits and
workplace risk assessment methods for stress, ergonomics and worker wellbeing
are available across Europe. These should be used to inform and underpin the
design of new retail tasks to ensure that worker health and safety are at the
forefront of developments in e-retail.

More Info

AplusA-online.de - Source: OSHwiki