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Work related injuries at grocery stores

Most grocery stores have developed procedures to help reduce risk factors in their effort to minimize workplace injuries.

Most grocery store work is physically demanding in some way. Every day grocery store workers handle thousands of items while stocking shelves, checking groceries, decorating bakery goods, and preparing meat products. These tasks involve ergonomic risk factors such as force, repetition, awkward posture, and static postures.

In the grocery store business, the presence of these risk factors increases the risks for injuries and illnesses.

Injuries may include:

• Muscle strains and back injuries that occur from repeated use or overexertion;
• Tendinitis;
• Carpal tunnel syndrome;
• Rotator cuff injuries;
• Epicondylitis (an elbow problem); and
• Trigger finger that occurs from repeated use of a single finger.

While placing merchandise in the front of a display case improves the appearance of merchandise; working in the back of a deep display case to face or stock merchandise can be uncomfortable, especially when heavy items are involved. The solution can stocking from the back. The product slides down an inclined shelf so that it's always in front of the customer. It's also easier for the employee stocking the shelf.

Another solution is providing cases with spring-loaded backs. When a customer removes an item, the back pushes the remaining items to the front, keeping them within easy reach. The design makes it easier to stock cases by eliminating the need to reach to the back of the case. The stocker puts the first products in at the front of the shelf, and then pushes it back to make room for more items.

What happens when an employee develops carpal tunnel syndrome? Is it work related? If his or her job requires frequent hand activity, or forceful or sustained awkward hand motions, then the problem may be work-related. If the job requires very little hand or arm activity then the disorder may not be work-related.

Activities outside of the workplace that involve physical demands may also cause or contribute to musculoskeletal disorders. Causes of musculoskeletal disorders may be related to genetic causes, gender, age, and other factors.

Grocery stores which have implemented injury prevention efforts focusing on musculoskeletal and ergonomic issues have reported reduced work-related injuries and associated workers' compensation costs. Fewer injuries can also improve morale, reduce employee turnover, encourage employees to be employed longer, and discourage senior employees from retiring early.

Workplace changes based on ergonomic principles may also lead to increased productivity by eliminating unneeded motions, reducing fatigue and increasing worker efficiency. Healthier workers, better morale, and higher productivity can also contribute to better customer service.

Many ergonomic changes result in increased efficiency by reducing the time needed to perform a task. Many grocery stores that have already instituted programs have reported reduced musculoskeletal disorders, reduced workers' compensation costs, and improved efficiency.


injuries at grocery stores


Is the economy affecting workers compensation?

Workers comp & the economy

You betcha and not in a good way either.

Some of the downside associated with workers comp cases are taking longer to settle because insurers are trying to cut workers comp costs. Layoffs at insurance companies have also slowed down the settlement process. When there is less workers to review more claims, everything slows down the decision making process.

Valid claims may also skyrocket during a bad economy because previously employees may have worried what effect their injuries would have on their employer. But if they're laid off, workers comp benefits are better than unemployment benefits or no income.

All in all, a bad economy is never good for workers comp or anyone having to do double duty because everything requires a mountain of paperwork and no time to hire new employees because just cutting through a ton of applicants is indeed a full-time job in itself.



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This roundup of headlines from across the nation provides a snapshot of what's happening with
workers' compensation in the United States.

Building Inspector

Whistleblower News: Building Inspector Sounds Alarm About Violations

Hell hath no fury like a former building inspector who was fired after she blew the whistle on board of education building code violations.

The whistleblower sought protection 10 years ago and the case is just being blown wide open by the FBI. A school board member was accused of taking bribes while steering contacts to certain construction companies.

The whistleblower pointed out rust and mildew problems two years after the school was built. She tried to block the construction company from leaving out a ground-to-roof firewall at the high school. She also wrote the state's inspector general, saying 16 schools used as hurricane shelters didn't meet building codes.

She received back employment wages, her pension, and firing erased from her record.


Does West Virginia discriminate against workers comp victims?

We'll let you decide. Here's a story about a worker (let's call him Bill) who hurt his back while doing heavy lifting at a foundry. Several specialists recommended spinal fusion surgery but the insurance company denied the specialists' recommendation and hired a lawyer to help defend their position.

Bill's treatment was interrupted. His employer tried to do the right thing and found another specialist to restore his functioning and get Bill back to work. Once again the insurance company denied the surgery request. Bill has since gone back to a desk job but it doesn't make his pain any less. Bill's employer once again sent him to another doctor who again recommended surgery.

The insurance company's doctor said he didn't need the surgery.

What's wrong with this picture? When will doctors opt out of the system because they are undermined by bureaucratic insurance companies?

This month the Joint Senate-House Judiciary Subcommittee plans to discuss the issue.

Meanwhile Bill continues to fight for his surgery but he has to do it himself while the insurance company can hire as many doctors and lawyers as they want.


Insurance Kickbacks and Workers Compensation Funds

The Ohio pension fund and the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) are on the receiving end of a $400 million settlement with insurance broker Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc.

The settlement is a result of an alleged kickback scheme. Marsh & McLennan Companies claim no wrongdoing. Half of the settlement will be covered through insurance with the balance expected to be paid with cash on hand.

A court has yet to sign off on the deal.


About the Statute of Limitations

If you are not a client and need legal advice or would like to discuss representation, please contact one of our attorneys to discuss your individual questions. We only provide legal advice to people who have signed a written agreement retaining our legal services. If you want to pursue a claim, you should not delay in hiring a lawyer. Please be advised that each state has a different statute of limitations within which suit must be filed. If you fail to timely file suit within your state's statute of limitations you may be forever barred from later bringing a claim.

We offer this information as a public service to those interested in Workers Compensation news. This newsletter is not legal advice and should only be considered as general information.

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