Workplace ergonomics is often discussed, an abiding necessity for any commercial kitchen. However, it is not unusual for corners to be cut when it comes to acquiring new equipment. Cost pressure inhibits investment in an asset that is becoming increasingly rare in the hospitality industry: healthy and motivated professionals.
Problems start with back pain and, in the worst case scenario, end with a slipped disc. Orthopaedic surgeons see such cases on an almost daily basis. It’s no coincidence that muskuloskeletal disorders are among the most common reasons for people in the hospitality sector to take sick leave. The daily hazards faced by the kitchen team include the hectic rush to prepare meals or serve food, slippery floors and lifting and carrying heavy cooking pots. All members of staff are well aware that heavy pots should only be lifted with bent knees and a straight back, but often time is simply too short to heed such advice, especially if the clock is ticking down to noon and 1,200 hungry children and teens are waiting for their lunch.
Michael Kerloc’h, chef at the Lycée Marie-Curie school in Vire, was only too aware of this issue. The Frenchman was accustomed to pulling off feats such as cooking 60 kg of pasta in 90 litres of water. At a trade fair, he discovered the Vario Cooking Center by Rational, with its integrated automatic raising and lowering mechanism. It automatically lifts the pasta from the water and then empties the hot liquid into the drain via the fixed connection. This function minimises the various risk factors: the difficult, dangerous task of lifting containers of hot water is eliminated, there is no risk of scalding when emptying the boiling pan, and the risk of slipping on wet floors is mitigated. After all, a VarioCookingCenter – unlike a tilting frying pan – does not require a floor channel drain, as it comes with an integrated water outlet. Michael Kerloc’h is glad that he factored ergonomics into his investment in new equipment: “We no longer need to bend over our boiling or deep-frying baskets, because the baskets are raised automatically. We really value this.”