Ergonomics: Meat and Deli Department Safety

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

Many of these ergonomic solutions may also be useful for the seafood and cheese departments.

• Keep wheels on racks well maintained. Wheels that are in poor repair can be difficult to push. Racks with bad wheels should be removed from service until they can be repaired.

• Keep all grinders, cutters and other equipment sharp and in good repair. Dull or improperly working equipment requires more force to operate.

• Provide thermal gloves for use when handling frozen items.

• Avoid continuous cutting or grinding. Whenever possible, break up these tasks with other, less strenuous tasks throughout the shift.

• Work with suppliers to get meat and other supplies in lower weight boxes to reduce the weight manually handled.

• Use a food processor to prepare ingredients for stuffing and other items.

• Keep large boxes and heavy items close to the body. This helps to reduce stress on the back.

• Arrange the wrapping station so that labels are within easy reach and workers do not have to twist or walk to get to them.


• Remove, round-off, or pad sharp or hard edges with which the worker may come into contact.

• Mount controls of the roller bed close to the wrap station so that workers can reach it easily. If there are two wrap stations, there should be two sets of controls so that neither worker must pull or lug trays down the conveyor.

• Align the roller bed and the wrap station so that employees can slide the trays rather than lift them to the station.

• If overhead storage is necessary, use it for light items such as foam trays. Use a step stool to reach items on high shelves.

step stool

• Position scales so that they can be used in the best work zone. Scales that are too high or too low for a worker can cause employees to work in awkward positions. If possible, make the scale table adjustable so that all workers can work in comfortable postures. Also, position the scale near the lowest part of the counter so that neither the worker nor the customer has to reach over tall deli cases for meat packages.

meat scale

• Provide a small stool for employees to sit on when catching and traying meat from the grinder. Squatting and bending at the waist can lead to back and leg discomfort, especially when grinding for long periods of time.

• Grind meat into a small lug and move it to a comfortable work surface for traying. This prevents the awkward back posture that results from catching and traying the meat immediately as it leaves the grinder.

• When using tongs select tongs with long handles to reach items in the front of the case.


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

Updated on: 09/07/12
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Ergonomics: Safety in the Meat and Deli Departments
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Ergonomics: Safety in the Meat and Deli Departments

Adjustable tables, non-force grinders, and anti-fatigue mats help prevent injuries in the meat and deli departments.
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