Server Safety

Server Safety

Employees who serve food (e.g., wait staff) are subject to a number of hazards, including sprains, strains, slips, falls, burns, cuts, and scalding. A variety of safety measures can be implemented to reduce the risks which these employees may face on the job.

Sprains & Strains

  • Employees who carry trays, plates, or beverages should avoid awkward postures. Serving with awkward postures such as unsupported elbow and finger postures can increase the risk for injury.
  • Servers should limit the number of plates or items they intend to carry. Carrying more than a couple of items puts excessive strain on the arms and back, and may lead to injury.
  • Employees should use both hands to carry items such as coffee pots or water jugs, and carry these items with elbows close into the body.
  • When pouring, employees should move the glass or cup toward them, rather than overreaching with a heavy coffee pot or water jug to fill a glass.
  • Employees should carry plates with elbows close to the body, to lessen the strain on the arms and back. When carrying plates, employees should avoid bending at the wrist or extending upward at the fingers. Shoulders, arms, and hands should be in a neutral position rather than bent at the wrist or extended upward at the fingers. 
  • Tray loads should be balanced evenly, with heavier items placed in the center of the tray.  
  • Before trays are used, employees should make sure they are serviceable, clean, dry, and without defect.
  • Employees should stand by the person they are serving, if possible, rather than reaching across tables and over people. In booths, employees can pass the plates along, requesting that the people sitting closest to the edge of the booth assist in passing the plates.
  • If space permits, employers should provide serving carts to carry food, rather than requiring workers to carry heavy trays overhead.
  • If space permits, employers should provide workers with a server's station close to the serving area. This will decrease the distance that items need to be carried.  

Slips, Trips & Falls


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