Ergonomics Guidelines for Retail Grocery Stores

Grocery stores provide a vital service to the public, and are a major source of
employment. In recent years, the efforts of grocery store managers and
employees have resulted in fewer occupational injuries and illnesses. Even with
these efforts, thousands of grocery store workers are still injured on the job
each year. Many grocery stores have taken actions such as those recommended in
this document to help reduce exposures to ergonomic risk factors in their
effort to reduce workplace injuries.

Some grocery store work can be physically demanding. Many grocery store workers
handle thousands of items each day to stock shelves, check groceries, decorate
bakery items, and prepare meat products. These tasks involve several ergonomic
risk factors. The most important of these include force, repetition, awkward
posture, and static postures.

In the grocery store industry, the presence of these risk factors increases the
potential for injuries and illnesses. In these guidelines, OSHA uses the term
musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) to refer to a variety of injuries and
illnesses, including:

  • Muscle strains and back injuries that occur from repeated use or
  • Tendinitis;
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome;
  • Rotator cuff injuries (a shoulder problem);
  • Epicondylitis (an elbow problem); and
  • Trigger finger that occurs from repeated use of a single finger.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor
announced the release of industry-specific guidelines for the prevention of
musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in grocery stores. The guidelines provide
practical recommendations to help grocery store employers and employees reduce
the number and severity of injuries in their workplaces.

Many of the work-related injuries and illnesses experienced by grocery store
workers are musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), such as back injuries and sprains
or strains that may develop from various factors, including lifting, repetitive
motion disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome, or injuries resulting from
overexertion. MSDs may also be caused partly or wholly by factors outside of

Grocery stores that have implemented injury prevention efforts have said they
have successfully reduced work-related injuries and workers' compensation
costs. Many times, these efforts have reduced injuries and led to increased
worker efficiency and lowered operating costs. For example, designing
checkstands to reduce ergonomic risk factors such as twisting or extended
reaching can improve cashier effectiveness and productivity.

These voluntary guidelines are intended to build upon the progress that the
grocery store industry has made in addressing the causes of these injuries.
These guidelines are intended only for retail grocery stores and combined
full-line supermarket and discount merchandisers including warehouse retail
establishments. The discussion is intended primarily for grocery store managers
and store employees, but may also be useful for corporate managers or corporate
safety professionals. OSHA did not develop these guidelines to address
warehouses, convenience stores, or business operations that may be located
within grocery stores, such as banks, post offices, or coffee shops. However,
operations in retail or distribution that involve similar tasks or operations
as those addressed in these guidelines may find the information useful.

The guidelines emphasize various solutions that have been implemented by
grocery stores across the country and have been effective in reducing
work-related injuries and illnesses. An "Implementing Solutions" section offers
examples of ergonomic solutions that may be used to control exposure to
ergonomic risk factors in grocery stores. The section includes corrective
actions, including checkout, shelf stocking, bakery, produce and meat

Further Information

AplusA-online.de - Source: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work