OSHA Releases Draft Ergo Guidelines for Retail Grocery Stores

May 8, 2003
OSHA announced today that the second set of industry-specific ergonomic guidelines is now available for public comment. "Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders: Guidelines for Retail Grocery Stores," is posted on the agency's Web site and will be published in the May 9 Federal Register.

Guidelines for the nursing home industry are already completed, and voluntary ergonomic guidance for poultry processors is expected to be ready soon. The agency recently announced it has begun work on guidelines for a fourth sector, the shipbuilding industry.

OSHA followed the same process with the retail grocery guidelines that was used to develop guidance for nursing homes.

"In developing these guidelines, OSHA reviewed existing ergonomic practices and programs in the retail grocery industry, and visited grocery stores to observe programs in action," said John L. Henshaw, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. "The agency also considered the available scientific data, and conducted one-on-one meetings with stakeholder groups to gather the best information available on successful practices, programs and processes in the retail grocery store industry."

Interested parties have until July 8 to submit written comments on the draft document. After the comment period there will be a stakeholder meeting in Washington, DC. OSHA will then review the comments and issue a final guidance document, probably before the end of the year.

The draft guidelines consist of an introduction and two main sections. The introduction provides an overview of musculoskeletal disorders in retail grocery stores and explains the role of ergonomics in reducing these injuries.

The first section describes how to develop and implement a strategy for analyzing the workplace, implementing ergonomic solutions, training employees, addressing injury reports, and evaluating progress. The second section gives examples of solutions that may be used by retail grocery stores to control exposure to ergonomic risk factors in their workplaces, including recommendations geared to specific departments like stocking, bakery, produce, meat, and checkout, bagging and carryout. The draft guidelines conclude with a list of references and resources.

Copies of the guidelines can be downloaded at www.osha.gov/ergonomics (select "guidelines"). Additional information about submitting comments is available by calling the OSHA Docket Office at (202) 693-2350 or in the May 9 Federal Register.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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