Work-Related Injuries in Beverage Distribution:  Can they be prevented?

[fa icon="calendar'] Apr 20, 2021 9:44:48 AM / by Deborah Lechner

This is the introduction for a five-part series on why injuries occur in the beverage distribution industry and how they can be prevented.

Why So Many Injuries Occur in Beverage Distribution

OSHA reports that beverage warehouse and distribution workers are injured at a much higher rate than in other industry sectors with strains and sprains being prevalent. The question is why?

The reasons are not surprising. The beverage distribution industry involves handling heavy materials using highly repetitive motions that often occur in awkward positions. These tasks create musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) involving everything from low back to upper limb disorders.

Strenuous activities in beverage delivery include:

  • Unloading cases, bottles or kegs of beverages from the truck.
  • Wheeling a loaded hand truck to the point of delivery.
  • Manually unloading the hand truck and placing products on shelves/storage areas
  • Retrieving empty returnable bottles/kegs.

Strains and Sprains

Why do these activities place such a strain on the body? It all has to do with the way our bodies work. The shoulder isn’t as strong when the hand is working above it – with or without a load. The back wasn’t built to lift and twist at the same time – especially over and over again. The back isn’t the strongest when it is bent forward – either repetitively or for prolonged periods of time.   And if you observe or videotape work functions in the beverage distribution industry – doing the activities listed above, you’ll see both the shoulders and back working in these less-than-optimal positions - over and over again.

Not to mention…the forces exerted in the beverage distribution industry are impressive. Add working long hours and tight delivery schedules to the forces and the total of all these stressors combined takes a toll on the body. Find out more about the mechanisms of injuries in our beverage distribution industry whitepaper

Slips, trips and falls are additional primary mechanisms of injuries in beverage distribution. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, falls account for 15% of all fatalities, 25% of all non-fatal injuries, are associated with 95M lost work days, costing US employers $70 billion. And the problem isn’t decreasing.

The various environments in which beverage distribution occurs creates a variety of slip, trip and fall hazards. Everything from slippery and uneven surfaces to working at varying levels and heights are present. Most employers underestimate the role that an individual’s balance ability has in preventing a fall, when a slip or trip hazard is encountered.  Find out why individual balance abilities are so important in our Beverage Distribution Whitepaper.  

So how can you prevent these strains and sprains and slips, trips and falls?   Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing a series of five blog posts on the impact of work-related injuries in the beverage industry and how to prevent them using a proactive strategy. This strategy has been shown to be extremely effective for reducing injuries in multiple industries with physically demanding jobs - including beverage distribution.

For more information, contact Deborah Lechner, President ErgoScience, Inc.

Deborah Lechner

Written by Deborah Lechner

Deborah Lechner, ErgoScience President, combines an extensive research background with 25-plus years of clinical experience. Under her leadership, ErgoScience continues to use the science of work to improve workplace safety, productivity and profitability.