The Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulates workplace safety, including grocery store operations regardless of the size of the store. OSHA regulations applicable to a grocery store include all the general regulations for preventing workplace hazards, as well as specific regulations that may apply, depending on the type of machinery used in operations. OSHA has specific guidelines for reducing injuries common to grocery store employees.

Ergonomic Guidelines for Grocery Stores

OSHA regulations impose a general duty on all employers to keep the workplace free from recognized hazards that can cause serious injury to employees. In 2004, OSHA issued specific guidelines for grocery stores titled "Ergonomics for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders." These guidelines provide recommendations for using ergonomic principles to reduce workplace injuries common to grocery store employees, such as back injuries, strains and sprains. Grocery store employers are advised to instruct and train their employees on using ergonomic principles such as proper lifting techniques for heavy or bulky items, and proper working posture for activities requiring standing and repetitive motions.

Machine Guarding

Grocery stores using commercial food preparation machines must comply with OSHA regulations for machine guarding -- which are as various techniques designed to prevent injuries involved in using machinery. For example, a grocery store with a bakery or deli on-site will use machinery such as mixers and slicers that involve sharp and rotating blades. Because of the potential hazards posed by the blades, OSHA's machine guarding regulations require the use of devices such as a barrier guard, or two-hand tripping controls to prevent the blades from contacting the employee's hands or clothing. Machine guarding may also involve other techniques such as securing or affixing the machine to a wall or floor so that it remains stationary during use.

Excessive Heat

Bakeries and other types of commercial kitchen operations located in a grocery store use radiant heating sources, such as ovens and grills, that can produce high air temperatures and pose the potential hazard of excessive heat conditions for employees. OSHA regulations require that employers be aware of the potential for heat-related illnesses affecting employees, which can range from rashes and cramps to exhaustion and heat stroke. OSHA provides a guide that specifies the level of precautions that should be taken by employers to prevent heat-related illnesses as the workplace temperature rises from between 91 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit.

Record and Reporting Requirement

Employers are generally required to record and report workplace injuries and illness to OSHA. If a grocery store has 10 or fewer employees at all times during the calendar year, the employer is exempt from this record and reporting requirement unless an incident in the store results in an employee's death, or in the hospitalization of three or more employees, in which case the incident must be reported to OSHA. (See Reference 5 - § 1904.1.)