Safety First in Grocery

Grocery stores and the workers they employ play an essential role in our communities. Not only do they provide people access to food, provisions, and medicine, but they also drive economic growth and provide work for millions of frontline employees. Approximately 2.8 million people are currently employed in supermarkets and grocery stores in the U.S.

With the pandemic-spurred labor shortage impacting many grocers’ ability to hire and retain these essential workers, stores continue to struggle with staffing, which places increased demand on those who work in the industry. Grocery workers are facing longer hours and increased productivity pressures, in addition to their physically-demanding daily tasks, all of which increase the potential for work-related injuries.

Several ergonomic risks are involved in grocery workers’ tasks including repetitive motion, overexertion, and awkward postures. Many of these employees handle thousands of items each day while stocking shelves, checking out items, bagging groceries, and preparing food. As such, the rate of work-related injuries within the industry is higher than average, with musculoskeletal injuries, like sprains and strains, topping the list. 

  • Strain & sprain claims happen 34% of the time in the grocery sector.
  • Strain & sprain claims are a leading loss driver among grocery store workers, representing nearly 40% of all indemnity claims costs. 

(Source: NCCI data for grocery stores in 2019)

Strain and sprain claims cost more per claim than the average claim in the grocery industry. And indemnity claims for strains and sprains are the most costly. According to National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) data for grocery stores, in 2019:

  • the average workers’ compensation claim cost was $6,335
  • the average strain & sprain claim cost was $7,293
  • the average strain & sprain indemnity claim cost was $10,500

Workplace injuries result in pain and lost work time for workers, as well as lost productivity and potentially higher workers’ compensation insurance premiums for employers. However, sprain and sprain injuries are largely preventable.

How Wearable Tech Helps Control Loss

Preventing strain and sprain injuries before they happen is essential to keeping grocery employees safe and working. Wearable technology offers a safety solution that does just that. Devices designed to help workers reduce high-risk movements, such as the improper bending, reaching, and twisting that are common among grocery store workers, can help change the way workers move.

Wearables serve as a continuous coach by providing users with light vibration alerts each time they make a risky movement on the job. Workers develop safer habits over time and their high-risk movements decrease. In turn, the frequency of costly sprain and strain injuries reduces as well.

Wearable tech can reduce injury frequency by 50-60% and lost work days by 72%.

Perr&Knight actuarial analysis, 2021

In addition to the real-time coaching wearables offer, they also collect data about how employees are moving while at work. This data uncovers areas and employees that are most at risk and provides employers with actionable insights that allow them to take specific measures to further reduce workplace risk and control loss.

Wearable technology has been successfully utilized at a variety of large companies in safety-critical industries and is starting to find its way into more moderately sized companies, like grocers, through innovative workers’ compensation policies that include safety tech at no cost. By taking a proactive, tech-enabled approach, these policies allow organizations that may not otherwise have the resources to deploy wearables to leverage the same benefits as Fortune 500 companies, namely a safer and more productive workforce and lowered premium costs.

Kinetic Insurance, in partnership with Nationwide, is pioneering a technology-driven approach to worker safety that benefits insurance carriers, brokers, and policyholders. Our workers’ compensation offerings lower costs by equipping workers with wearable technology that is proven to reduce injuries by as much as 60% and lost work days by 72%. Want to learn more? Reach out to us at