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Your job could be safer: Beverage and food delivery

Very few of us can grow all of our own food and make all of our own favorite drinks. That doesn't matter in this day and age because we know we can go to the restaurant across town or the grocery store down the street to get everything we need to be well fed. Yet, while we know to praise the farmers that grow our food, we often forget everyone else that is working hard to help us put dinner on the table. Food and beverage delivery drivers take risks every day of their lives -- lifting, loading and driving -- to help us eat well. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has etools online to help industries take steps to improve ergonomic safety. One of these etools focuses on beverage delivery. It offers simple solutions to reduce injuries that can be applied to any food delivery job. Here are some of the safety tips the etool provides.

Tips related to delivery trucks and lifting

Lifting product into and out of truck bays can cause acute/sudden injuries and cumulative trauma injuries (injuries that develop over time). Various tools can help make the job easier on joints and limbs, including bay ladders, ramp steps, articulated arms, portable forklifts and portable platforms. Delivery truck drivers also benefit from two-person delivery teams to allow employees rest from continual lifting and reaching as well as reduce the number of times doors need to be opened and closed. Employers should also tell employees to place heavier containers in lower bays (first tier) whenever possible.

To reduce truck accidents, employers must encourage safe driving and breaks from driving. Pay structures that over-value fast work can encourage drivers to speed or take dangerous shortcuts.

Finally, it goes without saying that trucks should be inspected for damage regularly. This includes inspecting bays and doors.

Tips for hand truck use

The quality of the hand truck can make all the difference. OSHA recommends a four-wheel platform cart to help minimize torso bending. When two-wheel hand trucks are used to move materials up a ramp or other slope, they should have a third wheel that makes the load self-supporting. Furthermore, portable curb ramps are a vital part to any job involving hand trucks.

It isn't just the delivery truck that needs maintenance and inspection. Any equipment used in moving, including hand trucks, should be inspected regularly and property maintained. For example, hand truck tires that have uneven pressure can cause additional strain on an employee's arms, legs and back.

Tips for improving the delivery process

Employers should encourage employees to take an appropriate number of rest breaks. OSHA suggests one 15-minute break for every two hours worked. Employers can also encourage customers to take steps to make deliver safer such as creating storage areas that reduce the amount of bending and lifting workers must do.

Safety should always come first

If you suspect your employer could do more to keep you safe, speak up. Your job is important, but so is your body. The last thing you need is an artificial knee, chronic back pain or a work comp claim. Employers, take steps to keep your workers safe. A worker who has the tools and safety training necessary to avoid injuries is a worker who will be with your company for years to come.

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