Barista Magazine

JUN-JUL 2019

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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Page 80 of 103

Holding ke les Over time, holding kettles while making pourovers can cause similar issues throughout the arm as the other stresses caused by repetitive coffee-equipment usage. However, it's a little trickier to neutralize than some of the others. "Holding kettles is a slightly challenging thing," says Maxwell. "The full weight of a kettle is often off-balance and supported by your wrist. There are some kettles that are more ergonomically oriented than others, so test out a few if possible." Make sure to have smaller-hand- ed workers test these, as they're likely to have the hardest time. The technological options are to use batch brew instead of offering pourovers or to use a single-cup brewer such as the Curtis Gold Cup, Poursteady, or Marco's latest hot-water towers. Retrieving and pouring milk Milk jugs are heavy and often involve repeatedly reaching down into a fridge and lifting while off-balance, making strain or injury very easy. Maxwell offers a few solves at minimal cost. "Storing milk on the counter and eliminating the need to reach into a reach-in fridge is a big one—you can purchase ice wells for both in-counter and free- standing applications and store milk and other high-use chilled items [such as] iced coffee, chai concentrates in those." He also recommends reducing the size of the containers used (half-gallon containers vs. full gallons), or even decanting into more ergonomic and visually appeal- ing vessels if your volume will allow for it. Standing Standing for long periods can cause serious long-term injury to the spine, hips, legs, and feet, and can even have ramifi cations higher up the body. "Never underestimate the power of a fl oor mat," says Kendra. "Not only does it help safeguard against slips, but it also provides cushion and support that a concrete or hardwood fl oor will not." Maxwell agrees, and also adds that shoes can play a big role. He advises baristas to prioritize comfort over fashion: "Get a pair of supportive shoes with nonslip soles. They keep you safe and comfort- able—you can even fi nd some stylish ones." Counter height Counter height is a diffi cult obstacle to mitigate simply because baris- tas come in all shapes and sizes, including heights. "The optimum counter height for someone who is 5 feet tall and someone who is 6 feet 2 inches are very different," says Maxwell. "Standard height counters for A.D.A. accessibility are good for strik- ing a reasonable balance." He also recommends keeping step stools and other tools available for folks on the smaller end of the spectrum and keeping frequently used items in the middle point between the highest and lowest areas. Reminders and tools In addition to the ergonomic measures themselves, application is key. "A lot of the main pain points can be mitigated by ergonomic training and positive rules around safety," says Maxwell. It's crucial not only to institute positive educational measures around safety, but to also create policy that systematically discourages unsafe behavior, as well. "Ergonomics are entirely free to implement," he adds. "Implementing rules is free, too!" Kendra strongly recommends baristas get in the habit of stretching before or at the beginning of shifts. "In just fi ve minutes, baristas can work through a series of short but effective stretches. Focusing on proper posture and stretching your shoulders, arms, hands, wrist, knees, and hips can help mitigate the wear and tear of routine barista technique. We integrated short stretches in our training manual a couple years ago, and I love starting a training session with fi ve min- utes of stretches. It sets the tone and energizes the trainee, [and also makes] them feel cared for." Occupational therapist Marcia would love to see companies not just offer training but also post reminders and diagrams detailing how to stand for hours, how to properly pull a shot, and more. "There are ways to do these physically rigorous jobs without wrecking your body," she says. "But often, nobody who studies bodies is being brought in to study the motion, understand the patterns common in all who do that motion, and give them new cues for the job." She also wants to see more trainings include recovery tools such as resting positions, self-myofascial-release techniques, and soaking in hot water and Epsom salts. "There are certainly things that can be done industrywide that would make things better via design, but you are still on your feet, using your voice, and repeating the same motions with arms all day," she says. "So giving baristas information about their bodies is a much bigger deal than their work space." In addition to all of these measures, it's important to make sure baris- tas rotate positions throughout the day. Preventing constant repetition of the same tasks is key in preventing repetitive motion injuries. ACCIDENTS + MEDICAL EMERGENCIES, & FATIGUE Slips, falls, burns, and other medical emergencies To navigate inevitable accidents like slips, falls, and burns, make sure as many people as possible on the fl oor at any given time are well- versed in fi rst aid, what to do in a medical emergency, and how to handle a workers' comp situation from the moment of injury. Service fatigue It's very easy to get emotionally burned out working in service (see Emily Orendorff 's inspiring essay on the topic on page 83). Part of the job is interacting with tens to hundreds of people each day, being not only courteous but actively pleasant. That can take a toll especially when customers are disagreeable, or when baristas have extra stress on their plate outside of work that might make it harder to keep up the facade. "Designated breaks shouldn't be a groundbreaking perk to a barista "We try to ensure that our staff knows that the level of hospitality we require can be draining and that it's OK to have to take a break from guest-facing positions from time to time." —Maxwell Mooney, Narrative Coffee 81

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