Report • 21.02.2011

Ergonomics at the cash register pays off for retailers and employees

Dr. Bernward Siebert: The constant repetitions of fairly easy processes are...
Dr. Bernward Siebert: The constant repetitions of fairly easy processes are exhausting. Photo by VDBW

Wide aisles in the store, customers are supposed to make their selections without hurrying. Yet at the checkout things get tight and everything is supposed to go fast. At the supermarket, cashiers scan over 80 items per minute. Stress, responsibility and repetitious motions put a strain on their health. Ergonomics at the cashier station is an investment that pays off.

”Health protection is not just a financial issue. It also shows appreciation towards personnel and thus contributes to employee motivation“, says Dr. Bernward Siebert, Chairman of the Berlin Chapter of the German Association of Company Physicians (www.vdbw.de). “A lot of things have gotten better in business over the past few years“, he summarizes. Siebert works at the Occupational Medicine Office of the German Technical Inspection Agency, which gives advice to companies from various industry sectors.

According to Siebert, today fewer cashiers are exposed to drafts in entrance ways. Discount stores save energy through vestibules at the entrance and cashier stations are also shielded by transparent rear panels. In many commercial enterprises the awareness of the value of good employees is growing. He is concerned about some small specialty stores though that don’t even have a common break room.

Improvements don’t have to be expensive. Siebert suggests for example to outfit larger beverage packages with a barcode that can be torn off. A label can alert the customers that they don’t have to lift the packages onto the conveyor belt and only need to present the tag with the lines on it. “This would help out both sides, customers and employees alike – and scanning the items would speed things up even more“, he argues. “Retailers would simply need to put some pressure on the bottling companies. “

Sick slips for many different reasons

Making a good case – that’s what occupational physicians can do. They don’t have authority over companies that hire them based on statutory provisions. They give advice to employers and this way can help to reduce the number of sick slips. A cause study isn’t always easy, after all a cashier rarely will call in sick due to back pain if she doesn’t want to risk losing her job. Instead, the flu or a migraine is stated as the reason. “Far too few family doctors ask about the situation on the job“, Siebert criticizes.

There are precise directives for designing cashier work stations including placement of merchandise, equipment and operating controls. “There are over 300 pages written by the workers‘compensation board“, estimates Hartwin Tackenberg, owner of the cash desk company in Bochum by the same name (www.tackenberg.eu). Tackenberg does not build up cash desk reserves, but builds according to the requirements of companies and directives. “But all directives are useless, if the company doesn’t implement them“, he explains.

Retailers analyze all work processes to the split second, looking for savings potential. They also use anthropometri¬c data, dimensional ratios of the human body. Since it’s mostly women that work at checkouts, you often pull up the standard data for women. “The difference in size among women however is huge“, says Siebert. Of great importance are the visual field and radius for picking up items, but also operating spaces and the possibility to do balancing movements both while sitting or standing up. It is not enough to just pay attention to the height of the work space, because the size of products is also important. The larger the items, the lower the work space should be.

Many cashiers suffer from psychological strain, stress due to transaction processing and the quickly changing customer contact. Aches in the supporting apparatus and locomotor system are very common. The spine, as well as the back – and neck muscles are under a lot of strain. When a personal sits non-stop, the legs are sorely taxed, in jobs that require a lot of standing, blood vessels are a sore point.

Change is healthier

So do you want a cash register where you sit or where you have to stand up? From an occupational medical point of view a combination would be ideal – meaning a flexible cash register working space that each associate can adjust during working hours with a few easy moves to their specific height and requirements. Such cash desks are rare in food retailing. However, these types of models by Tackenberg can be seen in food departments of Karstadt Department stores. Customers might have to lift their items up a little higher to place them on the belt.

The constant repetitions of fairly easy processes turn into health issues. The human arm weighs about three- and one half kilos explains occupational physician Siebert. If a cashier has to insert the cash card a hundred times per day into the terminal with outstretched arms and then needs to swivel it toward the customers for them to enter their PIN, it all adds up to intense stress. And often the items come from the right on the conveyor belt, so the right arm moves the items along over several hours.

At the next EuroShop, cash desk manufacturers will also showcase how retailers can create more comfortable processes. Several exhibitors will present sturdy stands for the hardware for checkouts, keyboard, display, card terminal and receipt printer that will afford certain freedoms for employees. Omni-directional scanners make entries easier and staff needs to turn items less than before to look for the barcode. The articles can be pulled across the reading device in different directions.

Dr. Bernward Sieber, occupational physician, makes one pragmatic suggestion: “The employees in stores should take turns with activities more often“. Stocking shelves – in part done reaching overhead or across freezers with the outstretched upper part of the body – in the long run amounts to heavy work. This also applies to stacks of cardboard boxes in a shoe store, at the fashion boutique or sports outfitter.

René Schellbach, EuroShop.de
 

Supplier
Logo: INKiESS - VOSCOPLAST KG

INKiESS - VOSCOPLAST KG

Buckower Damm 30
12349 Berlin
Germany

related articles:

popular articles:

Thumbnail-Photo: Retail spaces are so yesterday. Long live brand experiences!...
27.06.2019   #online trading #shop building

Retail spaces are so yesterday. Long live brand experiences!

How can brick-and-mortar stores stay competitive? With continuing retail reinvention!

Shopfitting – it’s no longer about shelves, sales counters and cash registers. Silvio Kirchmair, CEO of umdasch The Store Makers, considers it a stage where brick-and-mortar retailers can and should showcase themselves – especially ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Why marble countertops are the right choice for your shop...
15.07.2019   #shop building #shopfitting

Why marble countertops are the right choice for your shop

A guest contribution by Emmy Noel

When you think of marble countertops, you probably think about the beautiful natural stone countertops adoring a kitchen or a bathroom.Time to change our perspective.Marble countertops are the perfect addition for any business. Whether you run a ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Year after year: Christmas decoration
11.06.2019   #decorative lighting #trend research

Year after year: Christmas decoration

From classic to modern - four styles for 2019

Every year, Annetta Palmisano and her colleagues of Stilbüro bora.herke.palmisano compile the decoration trends for the coming Christmas season. Below we outline four styles for the 2019 season. ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Green Room and PUMA kick off new City Store experience...
18.07.2019   #digital signage #shop design

Green Room and PUMA kick off new City Store experience

Digital experiential elements and features for new store in Manchester

As part of an ongoing relationship with Puma, Green Room has designed key digital and physical experiences within the new City Store experience, to coincide with Puma’s new partnership with Manchester City.The concept centres on bringing City ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Window Display Of The Year Frame Awards 2019...
21.06.2019   #displays #product presentation

'Window Display Of The Year' Frame Awards 2019

Window installation featuring the Ura raincoat

Fourteen waterproof raincoats are suspended from seven bicompartmental metallic structures strategically placed on the ceiling of the store simulating drops of water. The shoppers’ attention is therefore drawn directly upwards to the product ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Retail holiday decorations: trends for the 2019/20 season...
09.05.2019   #decorative lighting #shop decoration

Retail holiday decorations: trends for the 2019/20 season

"The little affectionate details are always what’s most important." Interview with Annetta Palmisano

Many details or a simple design, artificial light displays or natural light – there are many ways to showcase window displays. Retailers who decorate with a light touch can use the emotional impact on customers and affect retail business ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Round things in an angular environment
19.08.2019   #pos marketing #in-store marketing

Round things in an angular environment

POS TUNING develops flexible stackable channels for oral tobacco in round packaging

A real presentation problem has now been solved.The presentation of tobacco products can be a real challenge. In hardly any other area you find such a wide variety in packaging sizes. For instance, there are the classic cigarette pack, the tobacco ...

Thumbnail-Photo: What shop design can look like: Trait concept store in Barcelona...
11.07.2019   #shopfitting #shop decoration

What shop design can look like: Trait concept store in Barcelona

Character in store design and in all details

In the Sant Antoni district, which in recent decades has developed from a working-class district to a hip district with bars, cafés, bookshops and boutiques, there is a small boutique, the Trait Store, hidden in Calle Parliament 28. ...

Supplier

POS TUNING Udo Voßhenrich GmbH & Co KG
POS TUNING Udo Voßhenrich GmbH & Co KG
Am Zubringer 8
32107 Bad Salzuflen