Back Pain Prevention Guide Targets Material Handlers, Sales Clerks

A back pain prevention guide was recently published by the Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (IRSST) and Groupe-conseil AON. In addition to offering different practical advice, this document -- "Handling work and customer service in warehouse superstores" -- proposes solution scenarios that are easy to implement for better prevention of handling-related accidents and the associated back pain.

According to IRSST, in the retail sales sector, particularly warehouse superstores, back pain represents between 40 percent and 50 percent of the accidents compensated by the CSST, while this proportion is less than 28 percent in all of the sectors.

Aimed at people who want to do prevention, the guide proposes a 5-part action process ranging from the identification of problems to the implementation of solutions. Several aspects have an impact on handling activities: the volume, weight and packaging of containers, the physical layouts in the sales area (height and accessibility of shelves), the equipment (mobile ladder, aerial platform, stepladder, etc.) and inventory control. The characteristics of each of these aspects can lead to injury or accident risks. This guide is designed to improve the work performance conditions of all employees that handle merchandise, from stockers to sales clerks.

The result of five years of research and based on two scientific studies, this guide contains a checklist to identify problems, six solution fact sheets, as well as a grid to evaluate the solutions. It includes illustrations, relevant examples, a glossary, and a summary table of the references. Written in simple language, this prevention guide emphasizes the important things to know and the steps to be taken to make our warehouse superstores safer workplaces. The guide and the fact sheets can be downloaded free from www.irsst.qc.ca/files/documents/PubIRSST/RG-546.pdf.

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