Can Working Safely in Restaurants – Sprains & Strains

Sprains and strains of muscles and tendons are common among food service workers. Improper lifting and repetitive motions are often associated with sprains, strains and tear injuries in restaurants. However, with proper training and open communication between employees and managers, many of these injuries can be prevented.
How Can Sprain and Strain Injuries Be Prevented?
Sprains and strains are easy to prevent, if workers follow a four-step approach to proper lifting.
Four Steps To Proper Lifting:
  1. Size up the load
    1. Use a hand truck if possibl
    2. Get help if you need it
    3. Check for slivers, nails, exposed staples
    4. Use gloves if necessary
    5. Make sure you have a clear path before trying to lift heavy objects
    6. Never lift anything unless you know where you’re going to put it down
  2. Lift
    1. Bring the load as close to you as possible before lifting
    2. Keep your head up, your back straight and bend at your knees and hips
    3. Lift with your legs, not your back
  3. Move
    1. Keep the load close to your body
    2. Look where you are going
    3. Shift your feet to turn, don’t twist
  4. Get Set and Lower
    1. When setting a load down, let your leg muscles carry it down
    2. Make certain your fingers and toes are clear before setting the load down

Clean Up Tasks:

Be aware of all potential hazards when 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.

Reduce lifting during garbage removal tasks by using garbage handling bags with wheels or garbage cans with wheels to limit the weight of the load employees must lift
and dump.

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

Install dumpsters at or below grade level.

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

Vary repetitive tasks by spacing out activities.

Lower rinse nozzle in the wash sink to rest at mid-body height to reduce overreaching.

Limit size of dirty dish containers to reduce the amount of dirty dishes that can be stacked and carried at one time. If possible, carts should be provided to put dirty dish containers on to decrease the distance that workers have to carry heavy containers. Employees should also be warned not to overfill containers, or they will have to lift and carry excessive weight.

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