Ergonomics Tips for Stocking Products
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Posted by Sarah B., Cathy B. on February 2, 2016 in Merchant Focus

What is ergonomics? You’ve probably heard that word a lot, but do you know what it means? In short, ergonomics is the study of posture and motion efficiency. So, armed with that knowledge, how can you look at your operations and job tasks and apply ergonomics to make the workplace safer for your employees and customers?

 

An easy example of ergonomics is designing a job task or area so employees don’t have to put themselves in unsafe body positions or lift large amounts of weight, which could cause a strain injury. Ergonomics is especially important because people change as they age, but job tasks often remain the same.

 

Stocking product can be one of the more strenuous tasks of a retail employee, and the size and weight can change with each box coming out of the stockroom. Training employees in proper lifting practices can help save them from an injury, and it’s always a good idea to do some basic stretches at the beginning of each work day.

 

Here are six ergonomic tips related to stocking product:

 

  1. Before lifting or carrying an item, size up the load. Check the label on the side of the box so the load is not underestimated and keep the object close to the body. We are stronger when holding objects close to our core, which reduces the potential for back strain. Remember to lift with your legs and keep your shoulders above your hips (back upright).
  2. Safety equipment should be provided, including thermal gloves for stocking cold or frozen products and knee pads for employees who kneel on the floor.
  3. Use a stepstool when loading high shelves and elevate the load so it doesn’t have to be carried up the stool. The optimum work area is between knee and shoulder height. Reaching at or above shoulder height can cause shoulder, rotator cuff, arm, or neck injuries.
  4. Arrange products so heavier items are stored on lower shelves where they are easier to handle by employees and customers. Work with suppliers to receive products in lighter weight boxes. The Grocery Manufacturers of America and Food Marketing Institute encourage all companies to use containers and packages that weigh 40 pounds or less1.
  5. When using box-cutting knives, the blades should be changed often so they are sharp. Using dull blades requires extra force, which can cause injury. To help prevent employees from cutting themselves, use self-retracting box cutters.
  6. If a pallet jack or forklift is not available, carts or hand trucks should be used to move boxes. Employees should avoid carrying boxes as much as possible. Boxes should be placed to reduce congestion in the aisles while stocking to avoid trip and fall hazards.

 

With proper planning and employee training, you will be well on your way to having an ergonomically friendly and safer environment for your employees and customers to enjoy.

 

1Additional information can be found at:  www.osha.gov

Sarah B. is our Retail guru
Sarah B. came to Acuity this year with a background in retail. She studied Interior Architecture in college and completed an online business education program through Harvard Business School. She also has a wide range of commercial insurance experience and has earned her Associate in General Insurance (AINS), Associate in Insurance Services (AIS), and Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designations. This made her the perfect addition to the Acuity Mercantile team. If she could travel anywhere in the world, she would return to Italy. She spent three weeks there during college studying architecture and design and has wanted to go back ever since.
Cathy B.
Cathy B. started at ACUITY in the fall of 2015, has a bachelor’s degree in safety engineering, and brings over 32 years of safety experience, including 5 years in loss control. She spent most of her career in manufacturing environments, but also has experience in retail, construction, and trucking fleet safety. She has produced numerous insurance safety videos, brochures, and has written articles for publications. She is currently helping ACUITY enhance their printed materials to better educate our insureds. She was also an EMT for 28 years and worked for full-time and volunteer fire departments. In her free time, Cathy likes to paint stained-glass projects.


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