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New Publication Highlights Solutions to Prevent Overexertion Injuries for Retail Workers

November 25, 2014
NIOSH Update:

Press Contact: Stephanie Stevens (202) 245-0641

Document cover page, 2015-100

A new publication from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) highlights how workers in grocery stores can reduce strains and sprains when moving materials from the delivery truck to the sales floor.

Designed for retail workers and safety experts, Ergonomic Solutions for Retailers uses a series of illustrations to show how and where employees in a retail setting, such as a grocery store, would use mechanical assist devices to lift, push or pull heavy materials—job tasks that can lead to musculoskeletal injuries.

“Data has shown us that not only do musculoskeletal injuries result in time away from work across all industry sectors, but data shows that they affect workers in the wholesale and retail trade at a higher rate,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “This new resource is an invaluable tool for workers in this industry to help decrease injuries and increase productivity.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, musculoskeletal injuries, also called overexertion injuries, accounted for approximately 30% of occupational injuries that resulted in time away from work. Additionally, laborers and freight, stock, and material movers experience the highest number of overexertion injuries.1 These injuries often involve strains and sprains to the lower back, shoulders, and upper limbs.

While this new publication focuses on the grocery sector, the easy-to-read format can be adapted to other scenarios including for those working in warehouse and storage facilities. The technology presented may also support a retailer’s growing internet sales that depend on moving large quantities of merchandise often with fewer employees.

This publication was inspired by a NIOSH/CalOSHA booklet, Ergonomic Guidelines for Manual Material Handling produced when stakeholders in the wholesale and retail trade sector recognized the need for informational materials showing interventions in work settings that were familiar to employers and employees.

To access Ergonomic Solutions for Retailers, please visit:

NIOSH is the Federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries and illnesses. It was created under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and is part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More information about NIOSH can be found at

1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, [November 21, 2014] [].