This sector comprises two main types of retailers: store and nonstore retailers. 1. Store retailers operate fixed point-of-sale locations, located and designed to attract a high volume of walk-in customers. In general, retail stores have extensive displays of merchandise and use mass-media advertising to attract customers. They typically sell merchandise to the general public for personal or household consumption, but some also serve business and institutional clients. In addition to retailing merchandise, some types of store retailers are also engaged in the provision of after-sales services, such as repair and installation.

This section includes establishments engaged in selling merchandise for personal or household consumption and rendering services incidental to the sale of the goods. In general, retail establishments are classified by kind of business according to the principal lines of commodities sold (groceries, hardware, etc.), or the usual trade designation (drug store, cigar store, etc.). Some of the important characteristics of retail trade establishments are: the establishment is usually a place of business and is engaged in activities to attract the general public to buy; the establishment buys or receives merchandise as well as sells; the establishment may process its products, but such processing is incidental or subordinate to selling; the establishment is considered as retail in the trade, and the establishment sells to customers for personal or household use. Not all of the characteristics need to be present and some are modified by trade practice.

For the most part, establishments engaged in retail trade sell merchandise to the general public for personal or household consumption. Exceptions to this general rule are lumber yards; paint, glass, and wallpaper stores; typewriter stores; stationery stores; and gasoline service stations which sell to both the general public for personal or household consumption and to businesses. These types of stores are classified in Retail Trade even if a higher proportion of their sales is made to other than individuals for personal or household consumption. However, establishments that sell these products only to institutional or industrial users and to other wholesalers and establishments for use exclusively by business establishments are classified in Wholesale Trade.

Establishments are primarily engaged in selling such merchandise as plumbing equipment; electrical supplies; used automobile parts; and office furniture are classified in Wholesale Trade, even if a higher proportion of their sales is made to individuals for personal or household consumption. Buying of goods for resale to the consumer is a characteristic of retail trade establishments that particularly distinguishes them from the agricultural and extractive industries. Farmers who sell only their own produce at or from the point of production are not retailers.

Processing incidental or subordinate to selling often is conducted at retail stores. For example, restaurants prepare meals, and meat markets cut meat. Separate establishments selling merchandise for personal or household consumption which has been manufactured by other establishments of the same company are classified in Retail Trade. Chain store warehouses are considered auxiliary to retail establishments served and are classified on the basis of the activity.

Establishments primarily engaged in the retail sale of used motor vehicles, trailers, and boats are classified in Major Group 55; those selling used mobile homes are classified in Industry 5271; those selling used automobile parts are classified in Wholesale Trade, Industry 5015; and those selling all other used merchandise are classified in Industry Group 593. Establishments primarily engaged in non-store retailing are classified in Industry Group 596.

The following table represents only the potential occupational health concerns related to the entire retail trade industry based on a job task or work activity, and any related OSHA standards for regulatory compliance. The information presented does not indicate or suggest a relative risk of exposure based on the location within the table nor provides any exposure information. Health risks associated with fatigue, working long hours, stress living away from home, and other psychosocial disorders are not addressed. The focus of this information is to provide guidance to understand the occupational health hazards from chemical substances, physical and biological agents, radiological, ergonomic, and environmental hazards from exposure to plants and animals. Potential occupational health exposures in this industry were contrived from the OSHA Integrated Management Information System database between 1984 to 2020.

One of the most frequently reported work-related injury and illness outcomes is overexertion injuries, which are called musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). As of 2011, MSDs include cases of sprains, strains, pinched nerve; a herniated disc; meniscus tear; and various connective soft tissue injuries when the event or exposure is “overexertion and bodily reaction,” which can be caused by repetitive motion, awkward postures, excessive force, and vibration.

Worker Exposure Profiles in the Retail Trade

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