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With revenues around $682 billion annually, the grocery store and supermarket industry is a massive market employing millions of Americans. Additionally, the grocery industry has seen exponential growth during COVID-19 with grocery store sales spiking 77% in march compared to the previous year. Online grocery sales have skyrocketed with Instacart, Albertson’s, Target and Costco seeing a 450%, 374%, 282%, and 85% April year-over-year growth, respectively.

As revenues grow and demand increases within the grocery industry, so does the demand placed on those who work within grocery. In the COVID climate, this growth, plus additional stressors like longer hours, and more product to move or sell, increases the likelihood of injury. Grocery workers’ often engage in repetitive, physically demanding work like lifting boxes, stocking shelves, preparing foods, checking out items, bagging, and so forth.

As such, the rate of workplace injury within the grocery industry is already among the highest of all top industries. In fact, “the grocery store industry’s injury and illness rate for total recordable cases was 8.4 per 100 full-time workers.”

In the USA, there are approximately 2.7 million grocery store workers across 89,248 establishments

The leading injury type in the grocery industry is musculoskeletal. Across all industries, musculoskeletal disorders are the single largest category of workplace injuries, accounting for 30+% of all worker’s compensation claims costs. Musculoskeletal disorders include muscle strains, back injuries, ruptured discs, rotator cuff injuries, carpal tunnel, hip and knee issues, and more. Essentially, MSDs are classified as “repetitive motion injuries” or “overuse injuries” of the muscles, ligaments and tendons, and bones. “Repetitive” and “overuse” can be used to not only describe musculoskeletal disorders, but also the nature of grocery industry work itself.

Of the grocery workers injured, “overexertion, bodily reaction, and repetitive motion” are listed as three of the top ten causes of musculoskeletal workplace injury. For this reason, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, days away from work for grocery retail workers was 90.5 per 10,000 full time workers (versus a rate of 55.3 for the entire private sector).

As a result of the volume of MSDs workers’ comp claims within the grocery industry, The Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has put together a set of guidelines. The OSHA’s “Ergonomics for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders: Guidelines for Retail Grocery Stores” provides recommendations to help grocery store employers and employees “reduce the number and severity of injuries in their workplaces.” These MSD Guidelines for Retail Grocery Stores, include how to protect workers, implement solutions, and address workplace musculoskeletal injuries. 

Fully Treating Injured Workers Now Means “Remotely”

Musculoskeletal Injuries in the Grocery Industry

While a lot of OSHA recommendations focus on the ergonomics and prevention of musculoskeletal injury, the fact is that workplace injury, especially with increased demand and strain, is inevitable. So, how can employers, or workers’ comp insurers and third-party administers best treat injured workers with MSD issues in the grocery industry? Additionally, how can injured workers’ suffering with musculoskeletal pain and immobility get holistic, comprehensive treatment in a restrictive COVID environment? 

PeerWell is a digital solution that is accessible and serves injured workers’ from home with devices they already own. Treating a host of musculoskeletal disorders and chronic pain management, PeerWell guides the injured worker through a complete recovery. After all, getting to the root cause of a musculoskeletal issue caused by full-time work that is repetitive and overexerting in nature, isn’t superficial. 

To heal completely and not be susceptible to reinjury, injured workers’ need comprehensive musculoskeletal recovery. This means more than just physical therapy. Physical therapy alone—whether done in-person or remotely — isn’t going to cut it. An injured worker’s musculoskeletal recovery needs to include all factors involved in complete healing. PeerWell’s musculoskeletal recovery platform delivers daily bite-sized lessons to patients, centered around the five pillars of health: Physical Therapy, Life Management, Nutrition, Pain & Wellness, Health Literacy. 

Why PeerWell for Injured Workers in the Grocery Industry?

The grocery business is 24/7 and so are digital recovery solutions. Employees from the grocery industry are very susceptible to musculoskeletal workplace injury and reinjury. Customized PreHab, ReHab and surgery avoidance digital programs aim to treat the whole patient during their full recovery journey.

Benefits of PeerWell for MSD Injured Workers:

  • Accessible anywhere, anytime. Injured workers can access their complete PreHab (surgery preparation), ReHab (post-op recovery), or pain management programs from home or on-the-go.
  • No additional tech required. A lot of digital musculoskeletal programs require wearable tech. The full scope of PeerWell’s evidence-based programs and all AI SMART Motion Technology is built into the app. 
  • Inclusive. PeerWell is designed for complex users (older adults with common comorbidities like diabetes, smoking, and obesity). Complex MSD and surgery prep is made simple and accessible through dynamic content and advanced AI. Difficult-to-reach users are engaged with dynamic, customized programming that leverages playful images and readable language.
  • Comprehensive– When it comes to treating a musculoskeletal condition, physical therapy and pamphlets aren’t enough. PeerWell covers the five pillars of health, and offers a complete recovery and strong foundation to prevent reinjury. 
  • Gamified– PeerWell shares patient progress and scores to motivate each claimant to reach their personal best. Each day and every day, claimants are encouraged to recover quickly.

PeerWell works with several of the nation’s largest grocers, and has proven to lower average medical costs of a catastrophic injury by 38% while maintaining a 93% patient satisfaction. If you’re a large-scale grocer or cover injured workers, let’s start the conversation.

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