Labor shortages are difficult enough to manage right now – you don’t want to risk having a valued team member need time off to recuperate from an injury on the job. Overexertion injuries are among the most common injuries restaurant staff have but you can minimize their severity by ensuring heavy items are stored and moved properly. Store heavy or frequently used items at a level between hip and chest height – and try to eliminate any repetitive bending and lifting from the floor. Use carts to move heavy items, but when items must be carried, lift with the knees and position items in front of the body if possible so no twisting is required. If your staff needs to pass plates through windows, ensure the openings don’t require awkward postures that can cause injury.
Restaurant work is physical labor – and at a time when it’s more challenging than ever to have a complete team ready to work, it’s important to do what you can to prevent on-the-job injuries. Consider how you’re managing manual-handling risks. Heavy or frequent lifting and carrying of bulk food containers can cause back injuries, as can reaching up or down into awkward or difficult-to- access spaces. Markel Insurance advises operators to store heavy items at a height between workers’ hips and chest, or to use carts to move heavy items from storage areas and coolers. Limit repetitive lifting where possible and ensure that when it must happen, workers are lifting with their legs and with the load directly in front of them and close to them. Adapt other areas in the restaurant that may not seem like big risks but can pose repetitive stress injuries, like pass-through windows that are too high or deep.