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December 15, 2014

New NIOSH Booklet Features Ergonomic Solutions for Retailers

Caution two or more people or a lifting device required to lift this item
Safe Lifting signs like this
can help prevent lifting injuries.
When you hear about "workplace musculoskeletal injuries," retail and grocery stores may not immediately come to mind. But Liberty Mutual Research Institute reports that overexertion is the leading cause of workplace injuries in grocery stores, accounting for $14.2 billion in direct costs. In the grocery sector, overexertion injuries that lead to soft tissue injuries, (musculoskeletal disorders), account for 41% of the injuries and lost work in grocery stores.

NIOSH has published a new document detailing how devices such as conveyors and hand carts can help with the "heavy lifting" to reduce soft tissue injuries. Ergonomic Solutions for Retailers: Prevention of Material Handling Injuries in the Grocery Sector, illustrates the use of various mechanical assist devices to reduce material handling injuries in retail grocery work. Although geared toward the grocery sector, the principles outlined in the booklet have broader applications throughout retail. Since 60% of injuries and lost work in select retail businesses are attributed to material handling injuries, this is good information for a variety of workplaces.



The 23-page illustrated report highlights various devices that can be used for several common tasks, including:
  • Unloading pallets from a trailer with a powered pallet jack
  • Placing and removing products on a conveyor
  • Unloading pallets onto a handcart
  • Transferring items from a flat cart to a storage rack
  • Using a pallet stacker to move merchandise
  • Using a vacuum lift to load or unload bags from a pallet
  • Using a pallet jack to move boxes
  • Using a stocking cart

Designed for retailers and safety experts, this NIOSH booklet provides illustrations of employees in a retail grocery store using mechanical assist devices to perform material handling tasks. For each task, there are multiple devices that can be used. The booklet also includes additional resources for preventing material handling injuries.

As time goes on, we'll likely see new devices and more integration of mechanical aids for moving stock in retail workplaces. Meanwhile, it makes sense to focus on employee ergonomics training and safety sign reminders.

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