Focus your eyes on something in the distance for a few seconds.



  1. the study of people and their working conditions
Although it’s universally known that a career in catering takes an enormous toll on your body, few of us adopt any measures to make things better. Nor do we have much of a voice in demanding that our work environments support our physical needs. In my previous career clients with special requirements demanded orthopaedic chairs. This contrasted sharply in the kitchen where one of my small-built colleagues would stand on a gastro tray for the entire shift in order to meet the counter height. And year after year, we ignore our battle wounds until we get a more serious warning from our bodies.

It’s not only chefs. The story appears to be the same in other high-pressure, high-profile professions like surgery where challenges in safely working with new technologies like non-invasive surgery has prompted them to re-evaluate their general approach to work. The devices cause surgeons to work in cramped postures over long hours:

As Thomas Krummel, MD, FACS, lightheartedly observed, “Most surgeons are ‘suck-it-up’ guys and gals. We tend not to complain about our own physical discomfort. We put the needs of our patients first.”

It appears that working conditions in their industry are similar to ours:

This undersupply of surgeons adds to the stress of the OR environment and may have a negative effect on quality of care. “It’s an industrial truth that the more stress you put on human beings, the more mistakes they make,” Dr. Nichol said. Medical devices are vital to the surgical procedure, but many do not adhere to basic ergonomics, he said, pointing to the one-size-fits-all oversight inherent in many of today’s surgical instruments.

”Our bodies have been abused and neglected,” Dr. Nichol continued. “Many of us are sleep-deprived. My point is that we have to change the way we look at ourselves and change our behavior.”

– excerpts from this article by Jeannie Glickson

Can we do anything to make things better for us? There are simple measures that we can all adopt in the kitchen, even when we know that we have lots to get done:

  • Being mindful of our posture when we practice one movement for an extended period of time (like crouching over the chopping board while doing lots of prep). Periodically relax that posture for a few seconds and do some simple stretches while you’re at your section or during the break
  • Our work requires us to focus our gaze intently on a small area. I used to find it helpful to take a visual break and focus on something in the distance for a few seconds

Even if nothings’s going to change overnight in terms of ergonomics in kitchens, I urge you to incorporate these practices in your work – after all, the onus is on us to take care of our bodies and these measures are simple enough to adopt.

Ergonomics in the kitchen

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