Physical stress profiles at point-of-sale workplaces

Project No. BGIA 4150


completed 12/2009


In Germany, some 500,000 sales points with checkouts are to be found in the retail sector. Owing to changes in shopping habits and technical developments, work at checkouts and the design of the corresponding workplaces have changed, with a trend towards working procedures becoming more monotonous. The working task is increasingly limited to the continually repeated scanning of purchases followed by acceptance of payment for them. The ergonomic design of checkout workplaces is hampered by a dearth of comparative studies into the physical stress caused by static, unfavourable body postures and repetition. For this reason, stress profiles of this kind were to be obtained in the present project by means of the CUELA measurement system. The objective was to produce recommendations for the ergonomic design of checkout workplaces, based upon analysis of the physical stress profiles; to substantiate these recommendations; and if applicable, to formulate test criteria.


In a pilot study, a test measurement was first conducted on two female test subjects, involving two variants of the CUELA measurement system in each case. The first variant (the CUELA seat system) was specifically designed for recording of the seating posture; the second also records the movements of the shoulders and arms. Evaluation of these data showed the CUELA measurement system to be suitable for identifying foci of stress in cashiers' work and attributing them to particular design aspects of the checkout workplace. Based upon these preliminary measurement results, systematic studies were conducted on several test subjects at four different checkouts. These differed in their design by the arrangement of the feed and takeaway belts and by the position of the till drawer, the scanner, the receipt printer and the keypad. The results were also compared with findings from similar studies.


The comparative study of musculoskeletal stress at checkout workplaces of various design permitted an estimation of the arrangements of, for example, the till drawer and the till keypad or of goods feed and takeaway arrangements which may be considered more favourable. For example, analysis of arm postures in terms of shoulder and elbow flexion showed an arrangement of the takeaway belt at an angle of approximately 30° to the feed belt and the scanner to be advantageous. The till draw should ideally be located between the two conveyor belts. For the keypad, display and receipt printer, an adjustable, modular arrangement appeared to be favourable. These observations enabled design recommendations to be formulated for the individual components of a checkout workplace, and combined to form an overall concept.

Last Update:

6 Sep 2010


Financed by:
  • Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung e.V. (DGUV)
Research institution(s):
  • BGIA - Institut für Arbeitsschutz der Deutschen Gesetzlichen Unfallversicherung

retail trade

Type of hazard:

Arbeitsbedingte Gesundheitsgefahren, Mechanische Gefährdungen


Physische Beanspruchung/Belastung, Arbeitsplatzgestaltung, Ergonomie

Description, key words:

physical stress/strain, CUELA measurements, ergonomics, workplace design