Too much time in the tavern can be hazardous to your health--and notjust for the drinkers bending their elbows or scrapping with thebouncer, according to a new study done in part at the University ofAlberta.
A joint study published in the September edition of AppliedErgonomics by the University of Alberta and Napier University ofScotland, shows that servers, cooks and bartenders risk seriousinjuries while doing their everyday jobs serving up suds and fingerfoods.
"The image of a pub environment conveys a homey, intimateatmosphere, but the physical demands associated with occupations in apub have had little attention," said Dr. Shrawan Kumar, professor ofphysical therapy at the University of Alberta. "Working in a pubinvolves tasks that pose risk to workers, and changes are required."
The case study of a neighborhood pub in British Columbia,Canada, revealed that of all the tasks done in a pub, bartending hasthe highest potential for injury. Bartenders run a high risk of backinjury from lifting beer kegs (weighing 72.5 kilograms), as well asshoulder pain from pouring pitchers and from reaching to upper shelvesfor premium liquor. Servers get aches and pains from lifting trays andstooping over tables of customers. Cooks are also prone to backinjuries when retrieving bulk staples like onions and gravy from thecooler.
Pub injuries make themselves felt in the workforce, the studynoted. Cost of compensation for hotel, restaurant and pub workers rosefrom $13,182,598 in 1996 to $18,458,551 in 1999, according to theWorkers' Compensation Board of British Columbia. Repetitive lifting ofheavy loads in constrained spaces such as cramped kitchens andstorerooms was a main culprit. For instance, the study showed that only3.6 per cent of the female worker population would have the trunkstrength necessary to lift a keg of beer, and 100 per cent of thepopulation would not have the shoulder or elbow strength required.
In determining the risk of injuries in the pub study, Dr. Kumar and hisfellow researchers, factored in worker gender, height and weight.
The study recommended several changes for the pub in question,including reducing the height of the bar, installing a slip-freeperforated floor behind the bar, using higher tables for customers,better organizing the cooler, and using a dolly to move heavy loads.
Pamphlets were also recommended for placement at each workstation in the pub's kitchen and serving areas, to remind staff of howto avoid injuries.
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