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Work-related back pain is a major cause of lost workdays and disability. While strenuous jobs like construction work are best known for causing back pain, jobs that require you to be mostly immobile throughout the day can cause just as much damage. Many tellers find themselves suffering from back pain.

A cashier’s job typically requires long periods of standing, moving items, lifting and turning. Each of these activities can cause strain on the muscles, ligaments, discs in the spine, and joints in the back, particularly in the lower back.

There are two components to preventing and recovering from back pain caused by cashiering duties: 1) workplace ergonomics and 2) proper body mechanics.

Cash register ergonomics

An ergonomic workstation is designed with the needs of the human body in mind, limiting opportunities for strenuous actions like reaching and twisting. While reaching out to reach for an item or turning to look at the screen may not seem like a strenuous activity, doing them over and over again throughout your shift causes cumulative stress that can lead to repetitive use injuries to the hand, wrist , arm, shoulder, neck or back. That is why the ergonomics of your workplace is so important.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a set of guidelines for teller workstations. Some are designed to limit the amount of torque you do; OSHA recommends the use of powered conveyors that push items toward the scanner and carry them to the other side, positioning display screens in view of the cashier from a neutral posture, and keeping the scanner and conveyors level to allow sweeping movements at through the scanner field. The guidelines also recommend ways to inhibit harmful reaching and bending practices, such as providing foot space at the bottom of the register so the cashier can stand closer to the work station, and making the height of the the bagger is adjustable.

If your job as a cashier causes back pain, review the OSHA guidelines at If any of these are not followed at your workplace, notify your manager or supervisor. A healthy business depends on a healthy workforce.

Teller Body Mechanics

Body mechanics involves how you move and use your body. Many people develop poor movement and posture habits due to a simple lack of awareness. An important part of preventing back pain, at work and elsewhere, is taking note of these harmful behavior patterns and reversing them.

The main culprits for back pain are twisting, bending, and reaching. Adjusting the way you perform certain tasks will limit the stress caused by these movements.

There are a couple of easy ways to limit the number of turns your back goes through. One is to notice how it scans the items. Be sure to use both hands, passing the object from right to left rather than using one arm. If you have to lift an item from the belt to the scanner, use both hands. Even lightweight items can cause strain over time. Another way to limit twisting is to turn your entire body to face the side instead of turning your neck or back.

When you squat, always bend from the hips and keep your spine straight. These guidelines are particularly important when lifting heavy objects, but should not be overlooked when bending over for any other reason.

One of the main reasons cashiers look for items to scan is to maximize speed. Many supermarkets and retail stores put pressure on cashiers to get customers to checkout as quickly as possible. The speed at which you work should never compromise your health. Using high-powered conveyors and sweepers that move items within reach of the cashier are ways your employer can increase payout speed without risking injury to cashiers.

Prevention of back pain in cashiers requires an ergonomic workstation and an understanding of proper body mechanics. Review OSHA’s workplace safety guidelines and talk to your manager about ways to prevent back pain in your shop.

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