HSE Guidance Addresses Back Pain Among Kitchen Workers

Back pain and manual-handling injuries are among the most common occupational health problems in the UK, and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) wants to help reduce those injuries.

In catering and hospitality industry kitchens, there are many tasks that without proper controls can cause back pain or upper limb injuries. In 2004-2005, an estimated 2 million people suffered occupational injuries or illnesses, with back pain and upper limb disorders accounting for around three-quarters of the total. Most recent accident statistics for the year 2004-2005 show that 62 percent of all manual-handling injuries in hospitality industry involve pushing and pulling, lifting and carrying, handling and awkward body movements.

Aimed at raising awareness of the causes and preventative measures for back injuries among employers, a new guidance from HSE offers practical information on good manual-handling techniques and lifting aids that will be useful to any section of the hospitality industry. The guidance, "Preventing Back Pain and Other Aches and Pains To Kitchen and Food Service Staff," can be downloaded from the HSE wWb site at www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/cais24.pdf. It also offers specific information for kitchen employees on significant risk areas such as pot washing, dishwashing, preparing food, storage and cleaning.

The guidance supports and supplements HSE's Better BACKS campaign launched in June 2005 (www.betterbacks.hse.gov.uk), which promoted practical tips for employees and businesses about managing back pain and tackling manual handling problems at source.

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