IRSST - Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail

IRSST's Notices, Recommendations and Support Tools

The contribution of occupational health and safety (OHS) research to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cashiers in essential stores are likely to come into contact with people infected with COVID-19. Some stores have already individually taken the initiative of installing physical barriers (Plexiglas) around checkout counters to reduce these workers’ exposure. To support retailers in installing the most effective tools possible, this document recapitulates several of the IRSST’s recommendations based on tests and its expertise. The following recommendations are intended to be inexpensive, simple and applicable during a crisis.

Note

The barriers are installed for the purpose of reducing cashiers’ exposure to droplets expelled by coughing or sneezing by creating a physical obstacle between the two people. These methods are not designed to reduce contamination in the rest of the store.

Cashiers’ bare hands or gloves should be deemed to be contaminated as soon as the first customer has been served, and thus hand hygiene, with or without gloves, should be ensured in accordance with public health guidelines.

1. Create a physical barrier between the customers’ lane (public zone) and the cash register area (work zone)

  • Install “heavy-duty” transparent polyethylene (6 mil or more) or Plexiglas to separate the customers’ lane from the cash register area (to limit the transfer of contaminants between customers and cashiers). It must be attached to the counter with a continuous strip of duct tape (see figure/illustration).
  • Do not completely close off the space around the cash register, as that might possibly retain contaminated particles.

2. Reduce the possibilities of contamination

  • Promote the use of automatic/self-checkout stations. Regularly disinfect these machines.
  • Eliminate baggers’ positions and have customers bag their goods themselves (it is not possible for a bagger to respect the safe distance between the customer and himself/herself).
  • Limit the number of customers in the store, depending on its size. If applicable, the security guard or employee at the store entrance must be at a safe distance from customers and must never personally dispense hand sanitizer.

3. Plan the following additional measures to reduce contamination

  • If the ventilation system allows, increase the intake of fresh air and the number of air changes per hour.
  • Use every second checkout counter to avoid letting cashiers be contaminated by customers walking behind them and to distance cashiers from each other (identify which counters are to be used and block access to the others, etc.).
  • It is important to maximize use of the length of the counter by having the customer place goods at one end and using the conveyor belt, if there is one. This measure is intended to limit the introduction of infectious particles directly behind the physical barrier. The areas where goods are put down and picked up are the most susceptible to cross-contamination between cashiers and customers.
  • Promote contactless payment. Place the terminal on the customers’ side. Use the opening for scanned articles for customers who are paying cash.

4. Procedures for cashiers

  • Clean the checkout area (cash register, scale, conveyor belt, etc.) ideally after each customer and at minimum at each staff changeover (break, meal, etc.).

Recommended arrangement

Recommended arrangement Cashier covid-19
This notice has been prepared by the IRSST, in collaboration with its social partners, employer and worker representatives, and members of its Scientific Advisory Board.
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