The Injury Risks Faced By Cashiers

December 21, 2020
By Glauber Berenson Vego

People who are old enough to remember when cashiers had to pick up each item a customer was purchasing, look at the price and enter it in to their cash register may think that cashiers today have it easy. Now they just have to wave each item’s bar code over the scanner in the conveyor belt and the price appears in their register, where the total purchase is calculated.

However, that action, repeated multiple times for hours on end, can take its toll on the body. Studies have found that some cashiers move their wrists back and forth as many as 600 times per hour. Some items have to be waved several times for the scanner to read the bar code. It’s no wonder that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the grocery industry is fifth in repetitive stress injuries.

Consider the movements required of a cashier

One occupational health professional notes that ringing up groceries is “a repetitive task with awkward movements like reaching and stretching, and then in the scanning process they have to twist their wrists to scan properly.”

As one representative with the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW) who used to work as a cashier says, “On the older machines, you could rest your hands. But with the scanner, your hands were totally suspended, with the constant motion of pulling groceries across it.”

Grocery store employees face numerous health risks, often made worse by poorly designed checkout counters that require a long reach across a wide conveyor belt and scales placed so that employees have to turn and lift heavy produce. And that’s before they even get to bagging the groceries.

How employers can help after an injury

In addition to ergonomic improvements, store owners and managers can help employees by allowing them to take more frequent breaks, not making a contest out of who can scan the most items in a given period and listening to employees when they say they’re in pain or have suffered an injury.

If you have suffered a work-related injury, it’s essential that you get the medical treatment you need. You may also require time off or accommodations to your work responsibilities. It’s important to get the workers’ compensation benefits you need and deserve.