From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Activity at OSHA Brings New Guidelines and a Plan from Advisory Committee

Draft of Grocery Store Guidelines Ready for Review
OSHA’s first draft of ergonomics guidelines for the grocery industry were made available for public review and comment on May 9, 2003. Included in the voluntary guidelines are an overview of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) associated with the retail grocery industry, information on analyzing the workplace, implementing ergonomic solutions, training, injury reporting and evaluation. OSHA has also included example solutions used by retail grocery stores to control exposure to ergonomic risk factors. Specific recommendations for departments including stocking, bakery, produce, meat, checkout, bagging and carryout are also part of the guidelines.

John L. Henshaw, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, noted that even without the guidelines, the retail grocery industry has already reported a decline in work-related injuries by over one-third in the past 10 years. “But workers are still injured in this industry,” said Henshaw, “and we hope these guidelines will help employers reduce the injury and illness rate still further.”

According to OSHA, the goal of the guidelines will be to provide practical solutions for reducing ergonomics-related injuries in retail grocery stores, although they do not extend to other services sometimes found in grocery stores including coffee shops, banks or post offices.

Comments on the guidelines can be made through OSHA’s website ( through July 8, 2003.

Second NACE Meeting Bears Advisory Work Plan
Following its meeting last week in Washington, D.C., the National Advisory Committee on Ergonomics (NACE) presented OSHA with its first set of work plans intended to assist the agency with the task of reducing MSDs in the workplace.

The plans came out of the committee’s second meeting, a two-day work session for the 15 members of the committee.

“In only two meetings, you’re already given us much to consider and I look forward to your continued best recommendations on some tough issues that ultimately will help us achieve our goal of reducing musculoskeletal injuries in the workplace,” Henshaw informed the group.

During the committee’s meeting, the individual members focused on three work groups including guidelines, outreach and assistance, and research. According to OSHA, the guidelines group discussed which factors OSHA should use to determine the industries who could benefit from guidelines, while the outreach and assistance group reviewed OSHA’s current outreach efforts as well as the agency’s website and links. The progress of the research group included the recommendation of a symposium for published research on work-related MSDs so OSHA could examine the details of studies and methodologies used.

The National Advisory Committee on Ergonomics was formed by Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao last December to advise OSHA on ergonomics guidelines, outreach and assistance, and research. The group will meet again in September.