Young Worker Safety in Restaurants
Strains and Sprains Warmer - Kitchen Equipment
Dough Roller - Machine Guarding
Mixer - Machine Guarding
Steamer - Kitchen Equipment
Floor Mat - Slips/Trips/Falls
Knives and Cuts
Slicer - Machine Guarding Floor Mat - Slips/Trips/Falls
Knives and Cuts
Knives and Cuts
Food Preparation

The Food Preparation area of a restaurant offers young workers an opportunity for developing skills in culinary art, sanitation principles, and in the use of kitchen equipment. Young workers in this area may also be exposed to the following hazards:
 
Take the Quiz
Safety Poster

Strains and Sprains
Ergonomic controls can help eliminate or limit exposure to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in the workplace. Types of controls usually fall into 4 categories. 

Potential Hazard

Repetitive movements may lead to strain and sprains. For example:
  • Prolonged standing and repetitive or prolonged motions such as reaching, lifting, and chopping while preparing food in food preparation areas.
    • Static postures may occur as workers continuously stand in one position while chopping or preparing food, causing muscle fatigue and pooling of blood in the lower extremities. Awkward neck postures can lead to neck strains and muscle stiffness if cooks are constantly tilting their heads downward to chop, dice, and mix food.
  • Reaching and lifting: Frequent elevated extended reaches for supplies can cause back and shoulder injury resulting in muscle strain, or:
    • Tendinitis: Tendon inflammation occurring when a muscle or tendon is repeatedly tensed from overuse or unaccustomed use.
    • Rotator Cuff Injuries: The most common shoulder tendon disorder. Inflammation of the tendons of the rotator cuff of the shoulder, closely related to impingement syndrome.  It can be caused by continuously working with the arms raised overhead, repeated throwing actions, or other repetitive movements of the arm.
  • Repetitive motions: Performing hand-intensive tasks (such as chopping, stirring, scooping) with a bent wrist creates considerable stress on the tendons of the wrist and can lead to irritation and swelling and potential MSDs such as:
    • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: The compression and entrapment of the median nerve where it passes through the wrist into the hand-in the carpal tunnel. The median nerve is the main nerve that extends down the arm to the hand and provides the sense of touch in the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and half of the fourth, or ring, finger.
    • Tendinitis: Tendon inflammation occurring when a muscle or tendon is repeatedly tensed from overuse or unaccustomed use.
    • Tenosynovitis: Inflammation or injury to the synovial sheath surrounding the tendon. Usually results from excessive repetitive motion.
Book For more information, see Cooking - Strains and Sprains.
Chopping food preparation Chopping food preparation

Kitchen worker using elevated reach
Kitchen worker using elevated reach

Kitchen worker scooping with a bent wrist
Kitchen worker scooping with a bent wrist
Possible Solutions

Young Worker 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.

Reaching and lifting:

Learn to lift properly and stay fit to help reduce the risk of injury from lifting:
  • Lift with your knees, not your back.

  • Lighten a heavy load that needs to be lifted or get help when lifting.

  • Always make sure the load is balanced and even when lifting.

  • Get help when lifting or pouring fluid out of heavy pots or use tilt containers to help minimize arm and back train.
Book For more information, see Delivery - Strains and Sprains.
Don't lift heavy objects alone
Don't lift heavy objects alone

Lift with a buddy
Lift with a buddy

Tilt Container
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:

Assess worksites for ergonomic stressors and identify and address ways to decrease them. For example:

Prolonged standing:
  • Provide stools or a foot rest bar at work stations. This provides workers an opportunity to shift weight from their feet while still maintaining reach and accessibility.
Book For more information, see Drive-thru - Prolonged Standing.


Box placed on side allows for less reaching
Box placed on side allows for less reaching
Reaching and lifting
  • Provide height-adjustable workspaces appropriate for the task being performed, so that workers can keep elbows close to the body. For example, lower countertops, use height-adjustable countertops or stands, or provide work stands for employees.

  • Redesign or reposition tasks to allow elbows to remain close to the body, (for example turn boxes over on their side to allow for easier access).

  • Avoid awkward postures. For example, reposition tasks in front of workers rather than allowing them to reach above or behind to get supplies.
Repetitive motions

  • Rotate workers through repetitive tasks.

  • Use mechanical aids for chopping, dicing, or mixing foods (such as food processors and mixers) rather than hand chopping or mixing.

  • Reduce the amount of chopping tasks by purchasing ready-made salads, pre-sliced onions and vegetables, and other pre-prepared foods. This may be limited by budgetary considerations.

  • Restructure jobs to reduce repeated motions, forceful hand exertions, and prolonged bending.

  • Select ergonomically designed tools. For example:
    • Use ergonomically designed kitchen scoops that allow the wrist to remain straight.
    • Provide ergonomically designed knives that allow the wrist to remain straight.
Bad posture - bent wrist
Bad posture - bent wrist


30 degree bend
30-degree bend
 
Pistol grip
Pistol grip
Better scoop - wrist remains straight during use
Better scoop - wrist remains straight during use
Upright handle
Upright handle

45-degree bend
45-degree bend

Additional Resources
 

  Home | Serving | Clean-up | Drive-thru | Cooking | Food Prep | Delivery | General | Resources | Safety Posters | Quizzes | Site Map | Credits