Ergonomics: Implementing Solutions for Prevention

Ergonomics for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders: Guidelines for Retail Grocery Stores

The section on ergonomic solutions for grocery stores describes changes to equipment, work practices, and procedures that can address ergonomic risk factors, help control costs, and reduce employee turnover. These changes may also increase worker productivity and efficiency because they eliminate unnecessary movements and reduce heavy manual work. OSHA recommends employers use engineering and administrative techniques, where feasible, as the preferred method of dealing with ergonomic issues in retail grocery stores. The first solutions described are those that are applicable to all or most areas of the grocery store. Then, solutions for specific grocery store departments are presented, including:

• Front end (checkout, bagging and carry out);
• Stocking; Bakery;
• Meat and deli department; and
• Produce department.

OSHA is not providing specific solutions for every department of every grocery store, but the general recommendations should be useful. OSHA expects that a grocery store may need to implement a variety of solutions to address issues in different areas of the store. However, OSHA does not expect all of the solutions to be used in a single grocery store. The solutions are not intended to be an exhaustive list. Grocery store managers are encouraged to develop innovative ergonomic solutions that are appropriate to their workplace. These are only examples of ergonomic solutions which individual store managers should consider as a starting point. Managers are encouraged to look for other innovative methods that will meet their store's needs.

Employers should pay particular attention to ergonomic issues when redesigning existing stores or designing new ones. At that time, major changes are easier to implement and ergonomic design elements can be incorporated at little or no additional cost. (12)

King Kullen Grocery Company reported that they initiated a three-fold approach to effectively manage checkout repetitive motion concerns. First, they initiated training for cashiers, store managers and management personnel. They focused training for checkers on awareness of repetitive motion issues, good work practices, and the value of early injury reporting.

Second, King Kullen changed the design of their checkout stations and scanners. The changes included using a combined scanner and scale to reduce lifting and twisting arm motions, and locating the scanner directly in front of the cashier to reduce torso twisting. Finally, King Kullen worked to return injured employees to work as quickly as possible. Under their program, a nurse contacts injured employees within 48 hours of their injury and monitors their care until they return to work.

According to King Kullen, by putting these changes in place, they reduced MSD incidents from 21 in 1992 to 5 in 1996. (13)


(12) Hendrick, H. W. 2003, Determining the cost-benefits of ergonomics projects and factors that lead to their success, Applied Ergonomics. 34, 419-427.

(13) Allen, E. 1998. "Keeping grocery checkout lines moving." Risk Management. January.


Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20210

Updated on: 12/10/09
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