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Small shops need to pay more attention to their employees’ health

In summer months, especially during holidays and major events, the workload of small rural shops increases. The Labour Inspectorate checked the work load of the staff in the period where there are more goods and clients than normally. Inspectors checked the placement and removal of goods, condition of passageways, measured the temperature of workplaces, and observed the knowledgeability of staff about safe working methods.

According to Maret Maripuu, General Director of the Labour Inspectorate, the situation in small shops is fairly satisfactory. However, the medical checks and the use of right working methods raise concern. “Shop assistants work long shifts, they need to stand and move on their feet for long periods of time. On top of that, they often have to lift the goods. Ergonomic footwear is essential in this job as it protects the feet and back of workers. Unfortunately, just a handful of employers provide such footwear to their staff,” she said. “Employers need to give more guidance to their employees in terms of health-sparing and safe working. Employees should be sent to medical checks and instructed about correct working methods,” Maripuu added.

During the targeted check, 113 shops were inspected with a total of 571 violations identified. Mostly, the number of violations was less than ten. No violations were identified in just two shops. In more than a half of the cases, the employer had failed to provide working footwear. There were problems with passageways in many shops where they were used to store pallets. Another frequent problem was the condition of floors – they were uneven, porous, bumpy with loos wires or floor plates. In a quarter of cases, the employer had failed to instruct the staff about how to move heavy objects without damaging health. Moreover, in about 50% of cases, employees had not undergone medical checks. Labour inspectors gave a total of 230 oral recommendations during the inspections.