WHOLESALE AND RETAIL TRADE
Inputs: Emerging Issues
A number of emerging issues within the Wholesale and Retail Trade sector will influence the pattern of injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. Many of these emerging issues are linked to the changes in the economy and the global market that are having an impact on all industry sectors to varying degrees. The Wholesale and Retail Trade sector is noteworthy for the number of workers (21 million) that are required to staff the 1.6 million trade-related workplaces in the United States . The trade sector has a continuing need for workers, turnover is high, many of the jobs are entry level, skill levels may be low, and as a result the sector attracts a diverse workforce of both very young and older workers. One task for the Wholesale and Retail Trade Research Council will be to develop a research agenda that will adequately identify the emerging issues and prepare the research goals needed to address them.
Some of the emerging issues include the following: (1) long work hours, (2) shift work, and (3) work stress from serving the public, either in direct or telemarketing sales. Health and retirement benefits are disappearing, which can cause work-related stress in managing illnesses. Just in time shipping and order filling is increasing causing time pressure and lack of work control. Psychosocial problems are increasing that can fuel workplace violence. Musculoskeletal disorders continue to be a burden to workers, but the stress loads are shifting from the low back and legs to the upper extremities and shoulders/neck. This is occurring as a consequence of materials handling equipment reducing the lifting burdens but increasing the need to use keyboards and monitoring systems. Researcher will need to be sensitive to low force and high speed repetitive activities and static postures. It is expected that as the research agenda for the Wholesale and Retail Trade sector is developed, more emerging issues will be identified that will require continuing research.
Ergonomics Guidance for Employers
This is a listing of many of the best recognized sources of guidance on ergonomics in the public and nonprofit sectors. It is not an exhaustive list. There are also private websites that have useful resources. A list of several of the leading reference works on ergonomics is also given below.
- Ergonomics and Musculoskeletal Disorders
Ergonomics Guidelines for Manual Material Handling
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication 2007-131
Elements of Ergonomics Programs: A Primer Based on Workplace Evaluations of Musculoskeletal Disorders
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication 97-117
U. S. Department of Energy
The following websites have relevant guidance resources. There may be other state websites with useful materials as well.
California, Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Occupational Safety and Health
- Ergonomics publications (listed under Construction Ergonomics and Ergonomics)
- Tools for improving manual materials handling
Washington State Department of Labor and Industries
- Ergonomics web page
- Hazard evaluation tools and checklists
Industry-specific guidelines from business associations, labor groups, and government agencies
Ergonomics Ideas Bank
Search by risk factor and industry for ergonomic solutions
- Ergonomics publications
Search on keyword “ergonomics”
- Ergonomics slide presentations listed under Ergonomics and WMSDs
Below are two university websites with a variety of resources and links. There may be other university websites that are helpful as well.
Cornell University Ergonomics
Department of Design and Environmental Analysis
University of South Florida
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Thomas Bernard, Chair
Analysis tools for ergonomists
Australia, New South Wales, WorkCover
- Guides, tool kits, and case studies on ergonomics
National Code of Practice for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders from Performing Manual Tasks at Work
Australian Safety and Compensation Council, Canberra, Australia, August 2007
- Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety Ergonomics
- Institute for Work and Health
An independent, nonprofit research organization in Ontario, funded by employer workers’ compensation premiums.
- Institut de Recherche Robert-Sauvé en Santé et en Sécurité du Travail (IRSST)
A private, nonprofit, occupational safety and health research institute in Quebec, governed by labor union and employer representatives. Publishes some materials in French and English, and others in French only.
Publications on musculoskeletal disorders
- Work involving varied tasks: An ergonomic process for MSD prevention
- Prevention Guide-Handling work and customer service in warehouse superstores
Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders: A better understanding for more effective prevention
A guide to nature, detection, and prevention of cumulative-trauma musculoskeletal disorders for the electrical products manufacturing industry.
- Publications on musculoskeletal disorders
European Agency for Safety and Health at Work
- Musculoskeletal disorders topic page
- Publications on work-related musculoskeletal disorders and their prevention
United Kingdom, Health and Safety Executive
- Musculoskeletal disorders
- Risk assessment tools and checklists for material handling
- Industry specific guidance for reducing risks of back pain
- Framework for reducing and managing risks of upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders
Sources of Information for Finding Professional Ergonomics Assistance
Workers’ compensation insurers
Most workers’ compensation insurers have ergonomic specialists on staff or can arrange for the services of a specialist.
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
Requests for assistance can be submitted to the Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) program . Responses can range from a written communication with useful information, to a telephone consultation, to an on-site investigation that results in a formal published report. Services are free of charge.
OSHA consultation program for small and medium sized employers
Consultations are free and confidential, are not reported to OSHA enforcement, and do not result in citations, penalties, or fines.
- See information on the Pennsylvania program .
- Information on the federal program and other state programs.
Individuals with professional certifications
Sources of referrals and contact information are listed below. These individuals may be private consultants or be employed by universities or government agencies.
Consultants with credentials specific to ergonomics
- B oard of Certification in Professional Ergonomics (BCPE)
- Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
Oxford Research Institute
Provides certification of individuals and academic programs in industrial ergonomics and human factors engineering. Certifies and refers business to preferred provider organizations, and accepts employer job postings. Certified individuals and organizations in specific geographical locations can be identified by contacting BillBanks@OxfordResearch.org
Consultants with general safety and health credentials
American Industrial Hygiene Association
- Consultants can be searched by state and by specialty , one of which is ergonomics. Listed consultant companies are members of AIHA. Experience in ergonomics needs to be determined by contacting the consultant.
Board of Certified Industrial Hygienists
- Description of the range of skills of industrial hygienists and the certification process
The public roster of Certified Industrial Hygienists
Can be searched by city, state, or zip code.
- Board of Certified Safety Professionals
- Page last reviewed: November 14, 2012
- Page last updated: November 14, 2012
- Content source:
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division