Health and Safety Executive (HSE) research on supermarket checkouts found that some checkouts caused operators more back and upper limb problems than others. Checkouts with trolleys, tills and those involving packing caused more problems than belt-scan-chute checkouts. Evidence also suggests that problems can be reduced if checkout operators can choose whether to stand or sit.
Your employer has a duty under several health and safety laws – including the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASAWA), the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 – to:
- make sure your checkout is safe;
- make sure your checkout is suitable for you and the job you do;
- do a risk assessment of your checkout; and
- maintain your checkout properly.
In 2008, an Usdaw union member who is only 4 feet 9 inches tall successfully sued the Co-op after she developed a strain injury caused by reaching for the till and chip-and-pin device. The employer did not take into account her height when redesigning the till. An investigation by an ergonomist found the new layout breached health and safety guidelines because the chip-and-pin machine was 23cm too far from her reach – outside the comfortable reach of 95% of women.
Usdaw says there are many different types of checkout in operation around the country and they vary from employer to employer. It advises that for each type of checkout a risk assessment should be done. The union has produced the leaflet Checking Out Health and Safety in Shops which covers checkouts.