Produced by: Solutions Northwest, Inc. (Ergonomics Experts serving Kent, Renton, Seattle, and Tacoma Washington, California, and Oregon.
“About half of the injuries reported in the restaurant industry involved hot grease and more than 50 percent of fall-related injuries were caused by greasy and wet floors.” NIOSH
When thinking of kitchen hazards in a restaurant, most employees think of the risk of burns from grease or falls from spills, but what about the long-term work injuries?
While slips and burns are something you should be aware of, you should also ensure that your kitchen workspace is ergonomically sound to prevent future work injury. Your employees will not only be safer, but their efficiency will improve as well. This blog will provide just a few OSHA approved tips, put together by our ergonomics experts.
3 Ergonomics Tips for Restaurant Kitchen Safety and Efficiency:
1. Design your restaurant’s kitchen with everyone in mind
Constantly reaching, kneeling, or lifting in awkward positions can slow you down and take a toll on your body, especially when objects are hard to reach. Because not everyone is the same height, your owner or manager should purchase countertops and cutting surfaces that can be adjusted to the right height for different workers. At least two levels of shelving and racks will also help.Ensure that most items are between your hips and your chest. For example, sinks should be the height of most worker’s hips to prevent strain and shelves for runners to pick up food from should be the same height.
Not everything will be within reach for everyone, so use rolling stairs with rails to reach high places, and thick rubber mats to use when kneeling.
2. Save your hands, use the right tools in the kitchen
Forceful use of your hand muscles can result in injuries to your wrists, fingers, arms, shoulders, and back.To make things easier, try stocking the kitchen with oval or cylindrical handles for knives, spoons, ladles, and forks (around 1.25 to 2 inches in diameter and at least 5 inches in length). Use tools with rubber coating on the handles to increase friction, keep tools light weight to reduce strain, and provide tools that allow workers to keep their wrists straight.Additionally, employees should be taught how to properly grip tools. For example, objects should be gripped with the whole hand and not just a few fingers.
3. Be smart about heavy lifting
Every restaurant will have its share of heavy loads that need lifting. Lifting heavy loads can increase neck strain or injure the upper back, arms, lower back, and pelvis.Every restaurant’s kitchen should have: dumbwaiters to transfer food between floors, hand or platform trucks, conveyors, trash carts, pouring equipment, handrails on stairs, and service carts with wheels and comfortable handles.Heavy loads should be stored between the hip and chest area of the average worker and lighter loads between the chest and shoulders. Utilize co-workers to perform a team lift on bulky loads and if it is too heavy for two people, then break up the load. Kitchen managers or owners should buy and attach handles to heavy objects to make lifting easier.
Always stay proactive about your restaurant’s kitchen to avoid workplace injury. If it seems overwhelming, don’t hesitate to contact an ergonomics expert to assess your kitchen.
SolutionsNW.com provides work place and ergonomics tips from Solutions Northwest Inc., an ergonomics assessment provider located in Seattle, Kent, Renton, Tacoma, Washington State, Northern California, Oregon, Seattle, Olympia, Tacoma, and Portland.