CVS Pharmacy aids, pharmacists, and drug store clerks perform various duties including stocking the shelves, running the cash register, accepting prescriptions and dispensing medications, and recording every drug that is delivered to the pharmacy. However, pharmacy workers are often exposed to various workplace hazards while performing their daily duties.
It is the CVS manager or supervisor’s duty to maintain a safe environment for the workers and ensure that appropriate personal protective equipment is provided when necessary. The manager must ensure that all employees follow proper procedures when handling pharmaceutical drugs and products that could pose a significant health hazard. Employees must learn the policies and procedures in case there is an emergency of any kind involving pharmaceuticals.
Common hazards include tripping over boxes, lifting heavy items, dealing with spilled liquid, using stepladders, handling chemicals, and violence toward staff members. The extent of the exposure and the time of recovery is often based on the facility’s health and safety program that if enforced can identify serious hazards and determine the appropriate controls.
In the drug dispensing area of the store, the pharmacist, clerks, and aids must maintain a clean workplace. The owner must ensure there are adequate lighting and ventilation systems, and properly functioning equipment.
If you or a family member was injured while working at CVS, you are likely entitled to workers compensation benefits. Contact the workers compensation attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC for more information and a free review of your legal rights and options.
Pharmacy Workplace Hazards
The level of danger to drug store clerks and aids is usually dependent on the location of the pharmacy in the community. Some pharmacies are based in hospitals, medical centers, medical offices, retail establishments, and drug stores. Each workplace center offers a different danger or hazard that must be addressed to avoid harm. Some of these dangers might include:
- Biological Hazard – On a typical day, the CVS worker has physical contact with many ill patients who might or might not have contagious diseases. The staff should take considerable care to reduce the risk of being infected through the proper use of an adequate ventilation system.
- Chemical Hazard – In some pharmacies, the pharmacist will compound drugs according to the physician’s prescription. However, the interaction of compounding different chemicals can place the pharmacist, assistance, and aids at significant risk. Because of that, education is crucial on how to follow safe work procedures should there be a mishap, medication spill, or contact with hazardous substances.
- Ergonomic Hazard – Sufficient lighting in a clean environment that is void of substances that make the floor slippery could prevent slips, trips, and falls. Many pharmacists and aids and handle packaging, boxes and merchandise suffer from repetitive motion injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Musculoskeletal Hazard – Pharmacy assistants and drug store clerks tend to stand all day, each day. Working in the pharmacy and stocking shelves requires bending down to the bottom shelves and reaching up to the top shelves to get drugs when stocking or retrieving merchandise and medications. This highly physically demanding career can be brutal on the musculoskeletal system after working in an odd posture and standing in the same spot every day at the job for years.
- Physical Hazard – Out of all the common injuries occurring in pharmacies, most involved a sharp tool, medical instrument, scissors, scalpel, or broken glassware and malfunctioning equipment. However, if the pharmacist and aids wear protective clothing and use protective gear, many injuries can be avoided.
- Psychological Hazard – The pharmacy typically operates overextended hours every Day placing employees under stress due to the excessive workload. Additional psychological hazards include a disruptive work environment that requires better lighting, better heating and cooling, and better ventilation in a workplace that is more conducive to remaining alert.
- Violence and Aggression – There is a significant potential risk of robbery in the workplace or dealing with the aggressive customers without a prescription needing medications.
CVS Workers’ Wages
The annual employment data maintained by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics for the year 2016 revealed that pharmacy aids and drug store clerks employed in the Chicago, Naperville and Arlington Heights metropolitan area earned on average $12.10 per hour, or $28,110 every year. This job-related income is significantly lower compared to national averages. See Chart
Drugstore Robberies and Fatalities
In nearly every community, the local drugstore is becoming a prime target for serial criminals in need of cash or drugs. Almost every day, reports of dangerous crimes including burglaries, robberies, and assaults on local pharmacies, technicians, aids, and store clerks make the headlines of someone being attacked or shot. The numbers of pharmacy crimes have risen significantly over the last few years, in stories that usually involves violence.
Statistics maintained by the DEA, US Department of Labor, OSHA and law enforcement reveal that the odds of the drugstore being burglarized or robbed her about 14% across the United States. However, the number could be significantly higher because many pharmacies fail to report a loss of narcotics, break-in, minor burglary, or robbery attempt. Independent (mom-and-pop) pharmacies are more likely to be the target of robberies. However, the opposite is true in robberies where chain drug stores account for one out of every three pharmacy robbery. Many addicts to cannot obtain drugs from the Hospital, Urgent Center, or doctor turned to drugstore crime. This amount of crime is rising as the availability of drugs found in the street become less and less.
- Case 1: Sacramento, California – In December 2017, ad 87-year-old female shopper died after being knocked down to the ground during a robbery occurring at a Citrus Heights pharmacy. The crime was captured on the drugstore’s surveillance video. The customer had walked to the Rite Aid store before being knocked to the ground by an alleged robber, sustaining critical injuries. The alleged robbers fled the scene and had not yet been identified.
- Case 2: Montgomery County, North Carolina – One suspect in a drugstore robbery died, and another was hospitalized following a car pursuit in Mt. Gilead. Law enforcement officers received a call in the late afternoon in August 2014 concerning a robbery at the C & R pharmacy. The two law enforcement responders saw a suspicious vehicle behind the drugstore before a car chase ensued. A sheriff’s deputy took chase behind the vehicle before one alleged suspect lost control of their vehicle and drove off the road hitting a tree. The crash ejected both suspects from the vehicle before it struck other trees and burst into flames.
- Case 3: Cary, North Carolina – The CVS pharmacy manager tried to control an attempted armed robbery in February 2018. Witnesses told law enforcement at the store manager intervened and took a bag and gun from one suspect who was wearing a red mask and a black hoodie. The suspects ran out of the store toward an apartment complex. Both suspects were later apprehended. One of the suspects was charged in an earlier robbery of another CVS in Raleigh where he held two women at gunpoint and knocked one of the women to the ground before taking off with $1500.
- Case 4: Cleveland, Ohio – Two CVS drug stores were the target of separate robberies in October 2017 in Cleveland Ohio. However, one of the stores had been robbed 24 times since March 2017, and the other had been robbed 32 times since the end of July. Law enforcement believes the same group is performing all the robberies. However, they have yet to be apprehended. Authorities are concerned that the high level of crime in the area could escalate.
- Case 5: October 5, 2017 – In Tenleytown, a Washington DC district neighborhood, was the location of the recent CVS store robbery where the alleged bandits were caught and charged with armed robbery. Law enforcement believes the group had been involved in at least five other robberies at CVS stores throughout northwest Washington DC. In the recent incident, the two alleged robbers entered the CVS in Tenleytown and forced one of the store clerks to the back before demanding the employee open the store safe. The robbers took the money and fled.
Despite the rising incidences of violence and crime against drug stores, pharmacist, store clerks and aides, assault against this specific occupation is not inevitably any less safe compared to other jobs. Typically, when individuals suffer any injury in a grocery store, it is usually a liability issue involving slips, trips, and falls. The workplace is usually a safe environment except for the exposure to threatening or violent acts like robbery or assault.
In recent years, the threat of being robbed tends to frighten CVS workers where a desperate individual can simply walk into the pharmacy with a knife or gun to get what they want or take someone’s life. In any given robbery, the criminal has the potential of killing multiple victims. The threat is real. According to statistics maintained by the DEA, in the year 2014 across the United States, criminals committed 839 arm robberies that involved severe injuries and seven fatalities.
In many incidences, once the violent act, burglary or robbery is over, the injured worker suffering physical or emotional scars has chosen to seek out a different profession. That said, the trauma of being robbed uniquely affects every victim. Others to sustain the profession but take legal action to recover the monetary damages of their physical, mental, emotional and psychosocial injuries. With legal representation, the victim can be made whole again, if only financially, to move on with their life.
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