Rethinking Ergonomics for Food Service Workers

Specialists observed workers, noting how when and where they were lifting improperly, pulling, pushing and reaching

By Dan Hounsell
May 5, 2021

When the topic of worker safety comes up in healthcare facilities, much of the attention — especially in the COVID-19 era — goes to front-line doctors and nurses, and for good reason. But the conversation needs to go further into facilities. Consider the potential for injuries among food service workers.

This potential led the foodservice team at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Arlington Heights, Ill., to seek solutions, according to Food Management. In partnering with occupational therapists and ergonomic specialists, they found answers to act on to ease the wear and tear that goes with foodservice jobs.

The specialists observed the team going about a normal day on the job, taking note of how, when and where they were lifting improperly, pulling vs. pushing, overreaching, making repetitive motions, bending and twisting.

Am ong the observations was that workers band or stoop to load and retrieve trays that weigh 6-8 pounds into host carts at 10-35 inches high. The specialists recommend body mechanics training to achieve the right posture and lifting mechanics in order to minimize the distance of the reach/lift equation.

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