The delivery area of a restaurant can expose young workers to opportunities for developing their skills in communication,
material handling, and inventory control. However, they may also have to deal with the following hazards:
- strains and sprains
- heat and cold exposure
This module will take a closer look at all of these hazards, plus some possible solutions to stay safe.
Strains and Sprains
Workers can hurt themselves when they reach for and lift heavy loads while unloading and stacking supplies for restaurants.
Those injuries can increase if done in awkward postures. Here are some ways you can protect yourself from strains and sprains:
- Stack heavier items on lower shelves.
- Store lighter goods on top shelves.
- Stack items commonly used at waist level.
- Get help from co-workers when lifting heavy items.
- Use hand carts when moving products.
- Lighten the load to be lifted by asking your employer to buy smaller and, therefore, lighter cartons of stock.
- Before you lift something, size up the load:
- Wear gloves to prevent exposure to nails.
- Make sure the load is balanced and stable.
- Make sure you have a clear traveling path.
When lifting, do the following things:
- Bring the load as close to your body as possible before lifting.
- Lift with your legs, not your back.
- Keep your head up, your back straight and bend at your hips.
- Avoid awkward postures while lifting, such as twisting or side bending.
On the other hand, when lowering, do the following things:
- Your body position when setting the load down is just as important as when you lift the load. Use your leg muscles to lower the
load by bending your knees.
- Be sure your fingers and toes are clear before setting the load down.
Safe Work Practices
Employers must follow the child labor laws that
don’t allow workers’ younger than 16 to load or unload goods on or off trucks. Also, workers under the age of 18 cannot operate hazardous
equipment, such as forklifts, or operate paper balers or box compactors.
Heat and Cold Exposure
Delivery locations are typically outside areas where there is a potential for extreme seasonal weather and temperatures.
Keep a close eye on extreme temperatures during deliveries.
The following conditions can occur if a worker is exposed to hot temperatures:
- Heat exhaustion can result in headaches, dizziness, light-headedness, weakness, mood changes, and vomiting.
- Heat stroke can lead to dry, pale skin, mood changes, seizures, and possible death.
The following conditions can occur if a worker is exposed to cold temperatures:
- Frostbite is the freezing of deep skin tissue layers and leads to hardening and numbing of the skin.
It usually affects the fingers, hands, toes, feet, ears, and nose.
- Hypothermia occurs when the body's temperature falls below 95 degrees F. The person becomes tired and
drowsy, begins to shiver uncontrollably, moves clumsily, and is irritable and confused. As the hypothermia progresses, the
victim's speech becomes slurred, his or her behavior may become irrational, and unconsciousness and full heart failure can
There are several things you can do to help prevent heat or cold-related illnesses. Here are a few things to remember:
- Get medical help for cold- and heat-related problems.
- Schedule deliveries during appropriate times of the day, such as at cooler times during hot weather.
- Drink plenty of cool water in warm, hot weather.
- Wear appropriate clothing (a hat and light, loose-fitting, breathable clothing in warm, hot weather OR warm, layered
clothing in cold weather, including hat and gloves). In cold weather, pay special attention to protecting feet, hands, face,
and head. Up to 40 percent of body heat can be lost when the head is exposed.
- Avoid exhaustion or overworking. Energy is needed to keep muscles warm.
For more information on Heat and Cold Safety, see OSHAcademy course 602 here.
Food on floors can be a slip hazard.
Workers can become injured from slips, trips, and falls in a restaurant when loading or unloading supplies in the
delivery or storage area, or in the parking lot. Varying weather conditions also play a big factor and could add to
the potential hazards.
There are several possible solutions to keep you safe from slips, trips, and falls. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Wear appropriate non-slip footwear.
- Keep walking surfaces free from snow and ice.
- Eliminate cluttered or obstructed hallways.
- Do not block hallways with delivery items.
Safe Work Practices
Your employer should consider the following safe work practices to prevent slips, trips, and falls:
- Provide floor or ceiling plugs for equipment. Power cords should not run across pathways.
- Re-lay or stretch carpets that bulge to prevent tripping hazards.
- Provide decent lighting.
Young workers may be exposed to cold temperatures from working in refrigerator or freezer delivery storage areas. Staff
can be trapped inside if the door accidentally closes behind them. Trapped workers can then be exposed to very cold temperatures
and suffer from hypothermia.
Also, condensation inside refrigerators or freezers can cause some floors to become wet and slippery, which can lead to slips and falls.
There are several things you can do to protect yourself while working in restaurant freezers. Here are a few suggestions:
- Check cold storage areas periodically to make sure no one is trapped inside.
- Keep floors free from slip hazards, such as spills or clutter. Use non-slip matting for potentially slippery surfaces.
- Wear personal protective equipment for unpacking and sorting meat in the freezers, including hats, gloves, and rubber-soled non-slip shoes.
Safe Work Practices
OSHA standards require employers provide a panic bar inside of walk-in freezers to prevent trapping workers inside.
Here are other safe work practices to implement:
- Child labor laws do not allow workers younger than 16 to perform freezer or meat cooler work.
- Assess tasks to identify potential worksite hazards.
- Provide proper personal protective equipment.
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