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Dempsey Uniform: Avoiding On-the-Job Injuries

August 20, 2014

Avoiding On-the-Job Injuries

Focus on prevention with the best equipment, training and scheduling to preserve wellness in the workplace 

By P.J. Dempsey

Accidents and injuries are a part of life. Unfortunately, they’re often part of the restaurant industry. In a world of sharp knives, heavy trays, hot grills and long hours, it’s no wonder the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 67,160 food preparation and serving workers hurt themselves on the job badly enough to lose at least a day of work in 2008.

Though it’s impossible to predict or prevent every accident from happening, it is possible to take measures that will alleviate some of the risks associated with working in the food service industry. Show your employees and customers how much you care by being mindful of some common industry-related injuries and accidents, and take preventive measures whenever possible to keep your employees safe and healthy. 

Chronic Back and Joint Pain:  Long hours standing over a sauté pan or chopping vegetables can lead to chronic back pain. Besides encouraging your employees to wear comfortable, well-supported shoes, be sure to equip your kitchen food prep areas with high-quality anti-fatigue mats to provide increased comfort for those standing on hard concrete floors for long shifts.

Slips and Falls: Splattered grease, occasional spills and a fast-paced environment are a normal part of any restaurant’s kitchen, but they can lead to slips and falls in the kitchen (and on the service floor). Dry and well-maintained anti-slip floor mats provided by a commercial linen service help reduce such accidents. Also, message mats that contain safety, cleanliness or quality-related reminders keep these issues top-of-mind for employees.   

Wrist and Hand Injuries:  Wrist and hand injuries come with repetitive movements that inflame the tendons and, eventually, damage them. Chopping vegetables for long periods and carrying heavy trays with your thumb bearing the brunt of the weight can contribute to such injuries. To help prevent them, rotate staff so the same person isn’t always chopping or slicing. Watch how your wait staff is carrying food to tables, and have them practice using both hands or avoid trying to take everything in one trip. 

Lifting Injuries: Unloading crates of food, carrying heavy bags of flour up and down staircases, moving huge trays of freshly washed dishes, all of this heavy lifting can contribute to acute pain or more chronic aches. Be sure your staffers know proper form for lifting and carrying heavy objects, and don’t let a single person handle more weight than they can manage. Set up a partner system whenever possible for unloading trucks or moving heavy items up and down flights of stairs. 

One of the most effective ways to help your staff avoid on-the-job injuries is to encourage them to enjoy a healthy lifestyle in general. Try offering an incentive-based wellness program for all staff members. Employees who are not overweight, don’t smoke and have a strong core are much more likely to handle the physical demands of a restaurant job without adding damaging stress to their bodies.  A healthy staff is a happy staff, and that translates to a better bottom line for you. 

About The Author
PJ Dempsey is President of Dempsey Uniform & Linen Supply, a family-owned company offering rental, leasing, and direct purchase laundering services for linen and uniforms. Dempsey Uniform & Linen Supply is inspected and accredited by HLAC and is affiliated with Medtegrity, In addition, Dempsey has been awarded the TRSA Hygienically Clean Healthcare and Clean Green Certification Program.

The company is recognized for its high quality products, industry-tailored, cost-cutting service solutions and cutting edge, environmentally friendly laundry technologies. Collectively, these business characteristics make up what is known as the “Dempsey Difference.” 

For more information:  or call 1-800-378-8060.