Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Retail Workers Jump toward Good Health

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Retail Workers Jump toward Good Health

Article excerpt

SAN ANTONIO _ Each workday, employees at H-E-B's Retail Support Center go through a ritual. They gather, stretch and, before they're through, jump feverishly.

No, the 450 people who work at the San Antonio-based grocery giant's dry-goods storage facility haven't gone daffy.

They exercise at the start of each shift as part of an overall safety program at H-E-B's warehouse facilities, which now involves about 1,800 people.

While the trend of getting physical by employer's mandate has yet to catch on nationally, low-impact exercise has been incorporated for safety, medical-cost savings or recreation on an optional basis at several companies with regional profiles.

They include USAA in San Antonio, Motorola Inc. in Seguin, Texas, and James Avery Craftsman in Kerrville, Texas.

Still, making exercise part of the job description is the best way to go, H-E-B officials said.

In what is described as a warm-up, the workers at H-E-B generally are required to start with 10 arm stretches and work toward aerobic exercises like jumping jacks.

"All athletes start with a warm-up and since this is very physical work, why don't we?" said Lee Gerloff, manager of the center.

Group exercise satisfies a social function, too: camaraderie.

"If one of the guys is late to work, he has to do his exercises anyway," he said. "And the other guys will razz them."

The exercise requirement started in January, and it's too early to tell if it has reduced injuries significantly, Gerloff said. Even with more time, its impact still might be impossible to gauge since no one knows how many injuries the facility otherwise might have experienced, he said.

Nevertheless, he expects the results to pay off in the long run, the 29-year H-E-B veteran said.

"When the first thing you do when you come in is to exercise, and you're thinking about safety, you're going to be more conscious of it all day," he said.

Back injuries are the biggest problem for people who work in the retail-support warehouse. As "order selectors," they must load carts capable of carrying two pallets of goods.

Most of the workers have embraced the program, said Cesar Soza, 29, a 3-year H-E-B veteran. …

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