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    Lower absenteeism in the food-service industry

    Back pain can have many causes, ranging from poor posture and stress to poorly designed workflows. The good news is that clever kitchen planning that takes full account of ergonomics can improve employees' health and reduce the rate of absenteeism. Click here to read the full article.

    1. Improving work-life balance

    Healthy and motivated employees are a big plus for food-service businesses. For this reason, modern employers should improve the work-life balance of their employees. You might think of flexible working hours, time for further training and childcare but support and funding for sports and fitness (e.g. attending a gym which offers classes to strengthen the back) is also an aspect that can make an employer attractive.

    2. Stand tall!

    We stand with hollow backs too often, put strain on our spines by lifting things incorrectly and carrying loads that are too heavy. Stand and sit upright with a straight back. When lifting heavy items, start from a squatting position and keep your back straight (without bending forwards!) as you raise yourself. You should also strengthen and train all of your core muscles (back, abs, etc.) in a targeted way.

    3. Remember ergonomics

    In food service, an ergonomically well-equipped workplace will not only be more efficient, but may also help improve employee satisfaction and health. Ergonomics should be taken into account as early as the planning phase. Specifically, working conditions, workflows and the positioning of items to be handled should be optimised from a spatial perspective as well as in terms of timing, as should other aspects.

    4. The right shoes

    Good shoes are especially important for food-service employees as they spend most of their working day on their feet. A good pair of shoes should therefore not only be comfortable (flat soled or only low heels), but should also support and cushion the foot, go easy on joints and provide support. This would then consign aching legs, burning feet and backache to the past.

    5. Fitness: use it or lose it

    Even if you are on your feet a lot at work, you should seek out an active balance during your leisure time. Exercising outdoors keeps us mentally and physically fit – getting out and about in the fresh air reduces stress and can lift our mood. Sports such as Nordic walking, cycling, swimming, jogging and hiking are even suitable for beginners.

    6. Take it easy!

    This piece of advice applies to both your professional and personal life: don't always try to live up to everybody and everything. Make a conscious effort to take time out and don't let yourself be chased from pillar to post! It's only those who now and then take time for themselves and look after their family and friends who remain healthy in the medium term and able to perform well at work too.

    Better ergonomics in the workplace

    To prevent people doing hard physical work from developing conditions of the musculoskeletal system, experts advise businesses to make their workplaces more ergonomic. One such expert is German physicist Professor Peter Schwarz of Albstadt-Sigmaringen University's Faculty of Life Sciences. He believes that the issue of ergonomics has become an important aspect of planning large-scale kitchens. ‘Anyone planning a restaurant or commercial kitchen needs to be an expert in process and logistics planning, because ultimately they are dealing with a manufacturing environment for producing meals. Taking ergonomics into account is one of the most basic aspects of planning,’ says Schwarz, quickly followed by, ‘of course ergonomics pays off! After all, it has a direct correlation with productivity and efficiency!’​​​​​​​

    What does ergonomics mean?

    The term ergonomics comes from the Greek words ‘ergon’ (work) and ‘nomos’ (law). Ergonomics generally refers to the science of designing and arranging the things people use at work so that they interact with them as comfortably and efficiently as possible. The goal of ergonomics in the workplace is to optimise people's workspaces and equipment (machines, tools, etc.) in order to improve their working conditions.  Specifically, that means identifying the best arrangement and timing of work processes and the most sensible configuration of the equipment they interact with in order to achieve the best possible conditions.

    Furthermore, it means continuously improving the equipment they use so that they can achieve the highest quality and most cost-effective results. Workers should not be put under too much physical strain and should certainly not come to any harm, even if they do the same job over a period of many years. According to Professor Peter Schwarz, a physicist working in the Faculty of Life Sciences at Albstadt-Sigmaringen University, workplaces with good ergonomic design also create greater job satisfaction and increased levels of acceptance among the staff, ‘That, in turn, results in fewer errors, lower absenteeism, and hence greater efficiency.’