Whether it’s restaurants, cafes, pubs or hotels, people in the hospitality industry are working hard to serve customers, often at the expense of their own well-being. Working in hospitality involves odd hours, long shifts and extended periods of time spent on your feet. Fast paced environments such as this can be rife with workplace and safety hazards.
Manual tasks are an important part of getting the job done and some of these tasks can cause workplace injuries. Incorrectly handling heavy objects and repetitive tasks can cause undue strain on the body. Over the past three years, more than 18,000 workers were injured in the hospitality industry in NSW alone. 
Staff turnover in this industry is high and safety training is often minimised in the rush to get staff ready to work. While employers are responsible for providing a safe working environment, there are steps you can take to care of your spinal health and overall well-being. If you work in the hospitality industry or know someone who does, take a look at these tips to keep the spine happy and reduce the likelihood of injuries.
- Take your break – fatigue and tiredness can lead to poor decision-making and low levels of productivity which is why it’s important to take adequate breaks whenever possible, giving your body time to rest between tasks.
- Stretch it out – incorporate stretching into your daily routine to help counteract the effects of repetitive tasks and prolonged standing. Try the Straighten Up app exercises, designed to improve spinal health, stabilise core muscles and enhance health.
- Stay active – at the end of a long shift, it is not uncommon to spend time in bed or on the couch. While this rest is well-deserved, it should be complemented by an active lifestyle. Incorporate exercise into your daily routine to improve spinal health and overall well-being.
- Be vigilant – assess your workplace to identify and address potential hazards such as wet surfaces and spills.
- Lift correctly – use the correct lifting technique when moving heavy objects. Bend at the knees and lift using your hips and knees, not your back.
- Be mindful of your posture – good posture is integral to spinal health. Be aware of your posture and correct it if you find yourself in an awkward position, hunching or slouching.
- Speak up – if you are concerned about health and safety at work, speak to your employer to discuss how the work environment can be improved.
Muscular stress while lifting or handling objects is by far the most regular workplace injury in Australia. Safe Work reports in 2015 revealed that close to 40% of time off work can be attributed to this reason. If you suffer from back pain or other spinal health issues, don’t suffer in silence. It can be helpful to consult your local CAA chiropractor or other healthcare professional.
‘Keeping the Workforce Moving’ is the theme for the CAA Annual Conference this year.
For more information on maintaining a healthy spine, please visit the website of the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia at www.chiropractors.asn.au
 NSW Government, SafeWork NSW, Industry Safety: Hospitality
 Edway Training, Common Workplace Injuries