Manual tasks in retail and wholesale

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Body-stressing injuries resulting from manual tasks are the highest cause of injury in retail and wholesale industries.

Common hazardous manual tasks in the retail and wholesale industries include manually handling heavy, bulky and awkward items, handling below mid-thigh and above shoulder height, multiple stock handling, sustained standing and cashier work.

Occupations at greatest risk depend on the sub-sectors. They include occupations such as sales assistants, store-persons, checkout operators, fitters and delivery drivers.

Workers in the supermarket and grocery store retailing sub-sector and basic material wholesaling (e.g. agricultural, metal and timber product wholesaling) sub-sector are at high risk of obtaining body stressing injuries.

  • Store heavier and frequently used items on shelves that are between knee and chest height. 
  • Provide alternative ways to place and retrieve items in storage areas, such as using a suitable working platform to prevent workers from lifting above shoulder height or adopting a poor posture. 
  • Stock levels must be managed to ensure adequate space to access displays and store areas. 
  • Whenever possible, repetitive tasks should be combined with non-repetitive tasks. Alternatively, frequent breaks could be included in the work schedule. 
  • The workplace layout and equipment should be designed to complete work in an upright posture.

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