Working as a cashier is far from easy. From keeping long lines under control to serving each customer efficiently and effectively – there is a lot of incentive to work quickly with few breaks.
Such fast-paced, repetitious work can lead to serious health consequences.
For example, occupational overuse injuries, like cashier wrist pain, may occur.
What Are Occupational Overuse Injuries?
Occupational overuse injuries, also known as Occupational Overuse Syndrome or repetitive strain injuries (RSI), are injuries caused by repetitive movements, awkward positions held for extended durations, and lifting heavy items.
RSI encompasses a variety of injuries including carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, tendonitis, and tennis elbow.
- muscle weakness
- restricted mobility of the joint
It is normal for symptoms such as those listed above to start gradually and become intense over time.
Due to their line of work, cashiers often experience RSI in their wrists and hands.
Cashiers & Repetitive Stress Injuries
In the past, working as a cashier was not a dangerous job. But, since the introduction of the electronic scanner, occupational overuse injuries have become quite prevalent in this field.
Before electronic scanners, the work of a cashier was more varied and slow.
Nowadays, to perform their jobs correctly, cashiers must move items from the conveyor belt to the scanner, lift heavy items in small motions, and remove security tags – all in a speedy fashion.
Also, due to the desire to keep lines short and customers happy, cashiers often work for long periods with little opportunity for breaks.
Some stores monitor productivity by the number of items scanned. Worse, some employers even award prizes to the fastest scanning employees.
Such circumstances are the perfect example of what causes occupational overuse injuries. However, cashiers are not alone. RSI is common in other professions too. In addition to cashiers, occupational overuse injuries are typical amongst assembly line workers, construction workers who use power tools, office workers, and musicians.
Preventing Repetitive Stress Injuries
Unfortunately, sustaining an RSI is easy. But, combating these injuries is even easier.
To help prevent occupational overuse injuries, employers and employees can instill simple changes:
- Enforce frequent breaks – In Massachusetts, employees working more than a 6-hour shift are entitled to at least a 30-minute meal break. But, many employees feel pressured to work through their breaks to keep up with productivity expectations or because they prefer to be paid for the 30 minutes instead. With this in mind, employers should enforce that employees take at least short breaks throughout their shifts.
- Allow employees to vary tasks – Employers should encourage employees to vary their tasks throughout their shift. Employees should not work a full 8-hour shift at the cash register. Instead, employers should allow employees to work in intervals throughout their workday. For instance, by spending a portion of their day at the register and a portion of the day stocking shelves.
- Do not give out prizes for number of items scanned – Cashiers are already under significant pressure to scan and bag items rapidly to keep lines manageable. For this reason, employers should not sponsor competitions like, “Who can scan the most items in 1 shift?” Rather, employers should find other ways to measure productivity such as via customer satisfaction surveys and encourage employees to work to the best of their ability.
- Install ergonomic counters and equipment – Many occupational overuse injuries can be prevented by ergonomic design. Place items within close reach and keep work surfaces at a height that allows employees to relax their shoulders and arms.
Hurt on the Job? We Can Help.
Are you a cashier suffering from an occupational overuse injury? You may be eligible for workers’ compensation. Keches Law Group’s skilled and experienced workers’ compensation lawyers are prepared to assist you. Contact us today.