Background: Retail is a growing economic sector and employs an increasing number of the overall workforce, yet little is known about the incidence and characteristics of work-related deaths in the retail industry.
Methods: Workplace deaths were examined using the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries from 1992 through 1996. Occupational fatality rates were calculated by age, gender, and type of establishment, and characteristics of occupational deaths in the retail industry were compared to other industries.
Results: Liquor stores had the highest work-related fatality rates in the retail industry. The two leading causes of death in the retail industry were violence (69.5%) and motor vehicle crashes (19.3%). Females, younger, minority, and foreign-born workers were more likely to be killed in retail than other industries. Deaths in the retail industry were more likely to be in small businesses, after normal business hours, and in urban settings.
Discussion: Workers in the retail industry were at lower risk of most types of workplace deaths but had a markedly increased risk of violent death than workers in other industries.