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The many occupational hazards faced by cashiers

AdobeStock_58738070.jpgWorkers in Minnesota will always face health and safety risks, regardless of the sector in which they work. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandates that employers must protect employees against known hazards, but many business owners focus primarily on profits and disregard employee safety. Any workers who are in positions in which money changes hands are at an increased risk of physical harm.

If you earn your income as a cashier, your job is one of the worst when it comes to robberies, often involving firearms. Furthermore, the nature of your work also exposes you to several occupational injuries. The more you learn about the risks you face, the better that your chances will be to prevent injuries.

Threats of working with money

Regardless of whether your job as a cashier is a full-time or part-time position, your direct contact with the public in monetary transactions poses significant risks. Do you work as a cashier in any of the following business types?

  • Department store
  • Fast food outlet
  • Restaurant
  • Grocery store
  • Gas station
  • Movie theater
  • Nightclub or bar
  • Hotel or motel
  • Bank teller
  • Fitness gym

While dealing with money is a risk in itself, you will be wise also to take precautions to mitigate other injury threats.

The threat of armed robberies

The United States Department of Labor and Statistics says cashiers are at the highest risk of being injured or even killed in robberies. The agency says the risk is higher if your workplace has direct access from the street, such as a convenience store or gas station. If your employer installs security cameras both inside and outside, and provides well-lit parking lots, you will be at a lower risk of facing robbers.

Exposure to illnesses

Your direct contact with members of the public, accepting money from them and handing them their purchases exposes you to germs. Sneezes, coughs and hands touching counters can pass germs from person to person. Using a hand sanitizer might protect you from contracting illnesses such as colds or flu.

Musculoskeletal disorders

The nature of your job might require you to stand for hours on end. This can lead to swollen feet, low back pain and leg pain. Measures that might help include a low stool or foot rail to allow you to lift one foot at intervals and a floor mat with padding can also help. You might want to ask your employer to provide a tall swivel chair on which you can sit when your body tells you to rest your back and legs.

Repetitive strain disorders

Manipulating the cash register and moving merchandise repeatedly throughout your shift can cause overuse of your hands and wrists. It could even lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, which is an extremely painful condition with surgery as the primary option for relief. The risk of such injuries is lower if your cashier's station has a scanner.

Overexertion

The simple motion of lifting and lowering your arm repetitively to accept money from a customer, move products across the counter and hand over the change can cause soft tissue injuries in your neck and shoulders. Repositioning the cash register or lowering the counter to a comfortable height might help alleviate pain.

Sleep disorders

If you work shifts that keep you up between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., you might develop a sleep disorder. It is unnatural for the body to sleep during the day, and if you drink many cups of coffee or energy drinks to stay awake at work, your ability to sleep the next day will be further compromised.

How will you cope with injuries?

Being unable to work and facing mounting medical bills after a work-related injury can cause additional anxiety. If you report your injury to your employer as soon as possible, you will likely be eligible for state-regulated workers' compensation benefits. You could even use the services of an experienced Minnesota attorney to assist with the navigation of benefits claims.

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