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Young Worker Safety in Restaurants
Strains and Sprains
Automatic Dishwasher - Burns and Scalds
Unwashed Sharps - Cuts Strains and Sprains
Automatic Dishwasher - Electrical Hazards
Automatic Dishwasher - Hazardous Chemicals
Wet Floors - Slips/Trips/Falls
Clean-up

The Clean-up area of a restaurant offers young workers an opportunity to learn clean-up duties while handling various equipment and products. Young workers in this area may also be exposed to the following hazards:
 
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Strains and Sprains
Potential Hazard

Youth Bussing Dishes from Table
Exposure of young restaurant workers to injuries due to strains and sprains while performing clean-up tasks such as washing dishes, clearing tables, mopping floors, and emptying garbage. These tasks often involve repetitive reaching, overreaching, and lifting, which can lead to neck and back strains and sprains-especially if tasks are performed while assuming awkward postures.

Possible Solutions

Young Worker Solutions
Basin in deep sink
Basin in deep sink

Over-reaching
Over-reaching

Elevated overhead reach
Elevated overhead reach

Reduced reach
Reduced reach

Elevated overhead reach
Elevated overhead reach

Employers have the primary responsibility for protecting the safety and health of their workers. Employees are responsible for following the safe work practices of their employers.

During Dishwashing:
  • To help limit back flexion (forward bending at the waist) while washing items in a large sink:
    • Place an object such as a plastic basin in the bottom of the sink to raise the surface up while washing items in the sink.

  • Rearrange work spaces so it is easier to reach for supplies used routinely and to prevent over-reaching and awkward back, shoulder, and wrist postures.

  • Lower your rinse nozzle to rest at mid-body height to reduce your reach.

  • Reduce your reach while rinsing dishes by lowering the rinse nozzle to rest at mid-body height.

  • To limit over-reaching when placing glasses into racks, fill the near rows first, then rotate the rack to bring the back rows to the front.

  • Reduce overhead reaching; try to keep reaches at chest to waist level.

  • Don't overload dish racks.

  • Rack heavier items, such as plates, closest to you.

  • Empty and sort cutlery bins before they are full.

  • Use cleaning tools with good grips when heavy-duty cleaning is required.

  • Vary your activities to space out repetitive tasks.

  • Vary your technique to use different muscle groups; alternate between left and right hands.

Book For more information, see Drive-thru - Prolonged Standing.

Employer Solutions

Employers have the primary responsibility for protecting the safety and health of their workers. Employees are responsible for following the safe work practices of their employers.

Consider implementing recommended safe work practices, including:

Bussing table with container
Bussing table with container

Bussing cart with wheels
Bussing cart with wheels

Moving tables with help
Moving tables with help

Handling bag with open frame and wheels
Handling bag with open frame and wheels

The orange strips in this photo are a product that prevent garbage bags from sticking to the inside of cans.
The orange strips in this photo are a product that prevent garbage bags from sticking to the inside of cans.
During Table Clean-up:
  • Provide workers with containers to be used where possible to carry dirty dishes. Employees must be warned not to overfill containers, or they will have to lift or carry excessive weight.
    • Provide small rather than large containers, to limit the amount of dirty dishes that can be stacked and carried at one time.

  • If space permits, provide carts to put dirty dishes and heavy bussing containers on, rather having workers carry them.
    • Choose carts with large wheels that roll easily, to prevent strain/sprain injuries to employees from pushing or pulling heavy carts.

  • If space permits, decrease the distance workers must carry containers. Provide close "stations" to put bussing containers on that are located near the serving and clean-up area, so that the young worker doesn't have to return dirty dishes all the way into the kitchen area.

  • Leave outdoor furniture set up outside, outdoors at night. This may substantially decrease the amount of lifting required to set up and break down outside eating areas.

  • Instruct employees to get help when moving tables and chairs or other heavy objects, rather than lifting alone.
During Garbage Removal:

  • Reduce lifting during garbage removal tasks by using garbage handling bags with wheels or garbage cans with wheels for garbage collection when possible.
    • Handling bags have a frame with one side open to allow for easy disposal of garbage without reaching into and pulling bags up and out. The bags should be able to slide off the cart without lifting.
    • Limit the size and weight of these bags and provide handles to further decrease lifting hazards.

  • Use garbage cans that have a frame versus a solid can to promote ease of emptying. This will prevent plastic bag liners from sticking to the inside of the can. If the garbage bag gets stuck in the can, you must lift a lot more weight to release the vacuum than just the weight of the garbage.

  • Use anti-cling products that can be applied to the inside of your garbage can to prevent the plastic bag from sticking to the inside of the can.

  • Limit the size of garbage containers to limit the weight of the load employees must lift and dump.

  • Place receptacles in unobstructed and easy-to-reach places.

  • Install dumpsters at or below grade level.
Consider implementing recommended safe work practices, including:
  • Choose properly designed equipment like adjustable level rinse nozzles to help reduce the hazards associated with repetitive overhead and elevated reaches.

  • Provide cleaning tools with good grips.

Additional References

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