NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Musculoskeletal discomfort in grocery express checkstand workers. An ergonomic intervention study.

Orgel DL; Milliron MJ; Frederick LJ
J Occup Med 1992 Aug; 34(8):815-818
An ergonomic intervention study of musculoskeletal problems in grocery express checkstand workers was conducted by NIOSH in response to a request. Preliminary interviews were conducted with seven employees who used the checkstand. Most of the symptoms were clustered in the neck, upper back, and shoulder. Workers attributed their symptoms to design features of a newly installed checkstand that caused them to adopt awkward postures and to use twisting motions to operate it. An ergonomic analysis of the express checkstand was performed. In order to bring groceries from the far corner of the checkstand to the scanning area the employee had to make an extended reach. The keyboard was awkwardly positioned. This caused the operator to adopt awkward positions to operate it and to move the groceries across the scanner at the same time. Moving the items to the front of the belt across the scanner caused a high rate of repetitive motion for the dominant hand. A baseline survey of 23 cashiers who used the express checkstand and a regular checkstand was conducted. All 23 cashiers experienced neck, upper back, or should pain when using the express checkstand. Only ten subjects reported discomfort when they used the regular checkstand. The express checkstand was modified by placing a physical barrier near the front corner to prevent the cashier from overreaching and to reduce trunk flexion. An adjustable keyboard was installed. This helped reduce static shoulder strain. A training videotape was shown to the cashiers to instruct them in how to avoid potentially stressful postures. A follow up survey conducted 4 months later indicated that 15 of 19 subjects experienced discomfort when operating the express checkstand. Only 26% required medication for their discomfort versus 78% before the intervention, a statistically significant improvement. The authors conclude that the intervention process was effective in reducing the employees symptoms. Employees are good sources of information when performing these types of interventions.
JOCMA7; NIOSH-Author; Grocery-stores; Ergonomics; Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Occupational-health; Repetitive-work; Work-analysis; Cumulative-trauma-disorders; Retail-workers
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Fiscal Year
Issue of Publication
Priority Area
Source Name
Journal of Occupational Medicine
Page last reviewed: September 22, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division