Ergonomic Solutions for Retailers (NIOSH)

Targeted towards retailers and safety experts, the aim of this Ergonomic Solutions for Retailers (NIOSH) booklet is to combat the occurrence of manual material handling injuries specifically within the grocery store environment. Often referred to as overexertion injuries, these types of injuries make up a staggering 60% of all reported injuries and work absences in select retail sectors. Comprising 23 pages, this booklet stands out with its inclusion of 13 unique illustrations showcasing grocery store employees utilizing a range of mechanical assist devices during material handling tasks. Drawing inspiration from the NIOSH/CalOSHA booklet titled “Ergonomic Guidelines for Manual Material Handling” (2007-131), the creation of this booklet was driven by the Wholesale and Retail Trade Sector of NORA, acknowledging the pressing need for educational materials that feature practical interventions within familiar work settings for both employers and employees alike.
Ergonomic solutions for retailers can protect the well-being of retail workers and improve overall productivity.  

Things to Remember

Material handling injuries can have a significant impact on the productivity and well-being of workers in the retail sector. With the physical demands of lifting, carrying, and moving heavy items, it is crucial to implement effective injury prevention measures. This article aims to provide ergonomic solutions for retailers on preventing material handling injuries, highlighting key strategies and best practices.

1. Understanding the Risks

Before diving into ergonomic solutions for retailers, it’s essential to understand the common risks associated with material handling in retail stores. These risks include musculoskeletal disorders, strains, sprains, slips, trips, and falls. By recognizing these hazards, employers can take proactive steps to address them effectively.

2. Employee Training and Education

Investing in comprehensive employee training and education programs is the cornerstone of injury prevention. Proper training should cover safe lifting techniques, body mechanics, and the use of assistive devices such as hand trucks, dollies, and pallet jacks. Encouraging employees to report any discomfort or pain early on can help identify potential issues and mitigate them before they worsen.

3. Ergonomic Workstations and Equipment

Creating ergonomic workstations and providing suitable equipment can significantly reduce the risk of material handling injuries. Adjustable shelving heights, easy access to products, and anti-fatigue mats in high-traffic areas can minimize strain on employees’ bodies. Additionally, using mechanical aids like conveyor belts or automated systems for heavy lifting can significantly decrease the physical burden on workers.

4. Proper Organization and Storage

Efficient organization and storage of products play a vital role in injury prevention. Designate specific areas for frequently accessed items and ensure they are within easy reach. This reduces the need for excessive bending, reaching, or twisting, minimizing the risk of strains or falls. Regularly review and update storage practices to maintain optimal accessibility and reduce clutter.

5. Teamwork and Communication

Encouraging teamwork and effective communication among employees is essential for preventing injuries. Encourage workers to collaborate when handling heavy loads and provide clear instructions for team lifting. Establishing an open-door policy where employees can share safety concerns or suggestions fosters a culture of safety and helps identify potential hazards before they cause harm.

6. Regular Maintenance and Inspections

Regular maintenance and inspections of equipment and storage areas are crucial to ensure a safe working environment. Schedule routine checks for shelves, racks, pallets, and handling equipment to identify any signs of wear, damage, or instability. Promptly repair or replace faulty equipment to prevent accidents and injuries.

7. Promote Worksite Wellness

Promoting worksite wellness programs can contribute to injury prevention and overall employee well-being. Encourage regular exercise, stretching, and warm-up routines to improve physical fitness and flexibility. Provide access to ergonomic seating, rest areas, and hydration stations to alleviate fatigue and promote employee comfort during breaks.

8. Continuous Improvement and Feedback

Establishing a feedback loop with employees is essential for continuous improvement in injury prevention strategies. Conduct regular safety meetings to discuss concerns, share best practices, and address any emerging issues. Actively involve workers in developing and implementing safety protocols, as they possess valuable insights into their day-to-day tasks.


Preventing material handling injuries in the retail sector requires a proactive and multi-faceted approach. By prioritizing employee training, implementing ergonomic workstations, ensuring proper organization and storage, fostering teamwork and communication, conducting regular maintenance, promoting worksite wellness, and encouraging continuous improvement, retail store employers can create a safer work environment that reduces the risk of injuries. By implementing these strategies, we can protect the well-being of retail workers and improve overall productivity.  We recommend that you download the guide Ergonomic Solutions for Retailers to keep on hand as an important safety tool of reference.

Healthy Employees ARE the Bottom Line!

We are an injury prevention business. Specifically, we prevent sprains, strains and cumulative trauma injuries. It’s the simplest thing for me to say, but sometimes it’s the hardest thing to understand. What we want is your employees to be healthy. Peak Ergonomics serves over 50 communities in the Show-Me State of Missouri and all of our clients have had tremendous success at preventing injuries.

We have joined together the dream team of highly skilled professionals from across the healthcare industry; we have physical therapists, occupational therapists, exercise kinesiologists that are working with us at Peak Ergonomics. We have a tremendous diversity of clients. One of our clients will go 1500 feet underground. We go out on farms. We’re working with big machines and heavy equipment operators. We can contrast that and go into the office environment where we’re making sure that the employee is sitting comfortably at their desk and adjusting their monitors. Peak Ergonomics goes into the manufacturing and production line assembly to ensure your employees are safe.

Peak Ergonomics has pioneered the field of early intervention. We have had thousands and thousands of successful cases; all we do is prevent injuries. Healthy employees are better employees. If we can keep your employees healthy and safe, it’s going to be good for everybody. Our focus, this company’s focus is so driven toward taking care of your employees. We have your best interest in mind. We will do anything and everything to help you in your business and your employees to prevent injuries and help you to have a well workforce. That’s all we do, and we want to help you.

Healthy Employees ARE the Bottom Line!

Contact us for more information on how we can help your employees stay safe.

Learn more about our track record of success.

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