Occupational safety and health and the future of work in retail in the post-COVID-19 context

This brief explores the profound impact of recent technological advancements, climate crises and the COVID-19 pandemic on OSH within the retail and commerce value chain. The retail sector is witnessing an increase in contract work, temporary employment, irregular work schedules and platform workers. These transformations, coupled with the ongoing digitalization and widespread use of automated decisions and smart wearable technology in the sector, present new challenges, but also opportunities, when it comes to ensuring safety and health.

In delving into those challenges, this brief not only identifies potential risks to retail workers’ safety and health but also highlights opportunities for overcoming them. It carefully examines the existing policy options that can pave the way towards safe and healthy work in the retail sector of the future. The analysis encompasses large retail chains as well as micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), in both the formal and informal economies, while emphasizing the diverse OSH challenges faced by workers and employers.