Few people realize the physical effort it takes to work as a grocery store clerk. More than likely, you spend each shift standing, possibly causing you pain in your back, and that's not the worst of it. Electronic scanners make your job easier in some ways, but the physical effort you expend may cause you physical injuries.
One study indicates that you could repeat the same wrist motions for as many as 600 items per hour. During your shift, you could scan as much as 6,000 pounds of groceries. All the while, your hands never get much rest. When the retail industry introduced electronic scanners in the 1970s, they offered them as a way to make your job easier. However, you could suffer from back pain and carpal tunnel syndrome, among other repetitive motion injuries.
So, what can you do to keep yourself from injury?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration attempted back in 2001 to implement measures that would help keep you from injury, but Congress did not recognize the need. OSHA had some success in 2004, but many agree the efforts simply aren't enough. OSHA does recommend the following for retail cashiers:
- Make sure your hands are straight
- Avoid turning your wrists
- Keep your elbows close to your body
- Use stop braces so that items are no more than 17 inches from you
- Raise bag-loading devices so that you do not bend more than 10 degrees
- Use both hands for larger items
- Use anti-fatigue mats and footrests for more comfort while standing
Unfortunately, even these recommendations may not keep you from suffering repetitive stress injuries, since adhering to these guidelines isn't always possible and doesn't always work.
Your body could be telling you that something's wrong
If you end your shift with pain, tingling or numbness in any of the following places, you could be suffering from a repetitive stress injury:
- Back pain from stretching, lifting or reaching
- Wrist pain from scanning or lifting
- Neck pain from lifting and standing
- Shoulder pain from lifting, scanning or reaching
- Arm pain from stretching, reaching or scanning
Numerous cashiers experience some or all of these pains since many of the actions they perform affect more than one area of the body. As a result, they require time off work and medical treatment that could even include surgery.
Workers' compensation benefits
If you suffer from work-related injuries as a cashier, you may receive workers' compensation benefits to help you with your medical needs and loss of income. Depending on the severity of your injury, you may need other benefits as well. Your employer may need to provide you with reasonable work accommodations for you to continue working.
Unfortunately, since repetitive stress injuries do not happen in one incident, your employer and the insurance company may attempt to deny you benefits. You have enough to deal with during your recovery without having to worry about paying for medical care and supporting you and your family. You could benefit greatly from having an Ohio workers' compensation attorney to advocate on your behalf and help you get the benefits you need and deserve.