Accommodating Foodservice Workers with Motor Impairment(s)
Individuals working at in the food service industry often report experiencing discomfort in their necks, shoulders, lower backs, and wrists. Also, individuals with mobility impairments often need work area adjustments that allow them to access their workspaces. JAN has received many requests for ideas on accommodating individuals in the food service industry, and consultants have summarized the following accommodation suggestions:
- First, determine whether the workstation is adjustable and fits the worker. Products used to make a workstation adjustable include industrial and office workstations. Adjustability is especially important for workstations that are multi-user stations. Corner cushions help eliminate punctures from sharp corners and forearm supports compensate for the lack of upper body support.
- Second, turntables are available to assist in individuals in positioning dishes, food containers, and other kitchenware.
- Third, lightweight adjustable height carts from assist with moving products around the workplace. Compact lifting devices may be useful for individuals who have to move boxes. Individuals may also benefit from motorized carts if they have limited ability when pushing and pulling.
- Fourth, one job function in the foodservice industry that is often difficult for an individual who has grasping problems is the squeezing of a bag to dispense icing or dough. The pinch grip is usually the primary problem. One option is for the individual to use a toothpaste dispenser to complete these tasks. Another possible option is to contact a rehabilitation engineer and/or attempt to use some type of a grease gun modification.
- Fifth, for individuals who have difficulty performing fine motor functions such as cake decorating, using baking equipment, and cutting and chopping, there is baking equipment as well as cutting devices (knives and scissors) that may help. If the repetitive motion from mixing is difficult one idea is to adapt a power screwdriver to hold a wooden spoon.
- Sixth, if an individual has difficulty standing for long periods, a stand/lean stool and anti-fatigue matting may helpful for those who can stand, but have difficulty standing for long periods. If an individual cannot stand but must access areas that require standing, standup wheelchairs and gripping devices and reachers may be useful. If an individual has difficulty moving throughout a workplace due to a mobility impairment, a wheelchair or scooter may be useful.