Women generally report more work-related musculoskeletal complaints than men and have higher rates of sickness absence, even within occupations. One likely reason is that work tasks within the occupation are gendered, that is, women and men have different tasks, even when sharing the same job title. Retail is an appealing sector for studying working conditions and work environment in a gender context. The prevalence of work-related complaints is high, physical loads may differ considerably between tasks and the distribution of tasks is likely gendered. The overall aim of this study in retail is to examine factors at the organisational and individual level that may, in a gender perspective, explain working conditions, work tasks, workloads and musculoskeletal health.
Data will be collected in two grocery stores, each with 50–70 workers, at two occasions interspersed by about 1 year. In each of these four waves, data collection will include a web-based questionnaire to all workers addressing, for example, work tasks, psychosocial factors, fatigue and pain; semistructured interviews with managers and approximately 10 workers addressing, for example, competences and decision levels; and technical measurements of postures, movements and heart rate in about 30 workers. The study is novel in combining an organisational gender perspective addressed through qualitative methods with a quantitative analysis of tasks, workload and health. The design allows an examination of both how genders may differ, and why they may differ, as well as analyses of the extent to which gendered working conditions change over time in the two participating stores.
Approval of the study by the Swedish Ethical Review Authority (reference number 2017/404) has been obtained. This work will be disseminated by publication of peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals, presentations at scientific conferences and in meetings with representatives from Swedish retail, including unions and employers’ organisations.