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Ergonomics in the Kitchen



During the holiday season, I find myself spending a lot of time in the kitchen cooking and baking. As I was using a can opener the other day, I thought of the importance of using ergonomic principles while in the kitchen to avoid injury. Here are just a few tips to incorporate into your cooking and baking routine that will greatly help you to stay feeling great - you’ll need your hands and wrists to feel good in order to open all those presents!


The most common kitchen injuries are lacerations, poor work practices, poor quality equipment and poorly maintained equipment, wrist fractures from slips and falls due to spills, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive injuries.


To avoid cuts, use good quality knives that have a hand block that prevents the hand from sliding down the blade, and keep your knives sharpened and in good working condition. Also, many people get lacerations from attempts to pit avocados - do not attempt to remove the seed from an avocado held in the palm of the hand by thrusting a sharp knife into it. Instead, try a commercial grade pitter or hold half an avocado in the hand and gently, rhythmically squeeze it to loosen the pit.


Keep the blades of can openers and other cutting tools sharp. When possible, use electric equipment to take the stress off the hands (i.e. electric can openers, jar openers, food processors). Try the OXO Good Grips kitchen line with large and cushioned grips to minimize strain on the hands.


Use proper body mechanics in the kitchen. Keep items most frequently used closest to you to avoid repetitive reaching, lifting and bending. Whenever possible, slide heavy pots and pans along the countertop (place them on a towel) first instead of lifting. Use a step stool to reach high cabinets and try to get everything you need down at once. Also try to put it all away at the same time.


To avoid slips, wipe up spills immediately. Be aware of the location of hot and sharp objects. Wash knives immediately and put them away. Never leave sharp objects in the sink where they may be hidden by other dishes or sudsy water.


Lastly, slow down, relax and enjoy the process of cooking or baking. Doing this will help to ensure that you spend quality time with your family this holiday season and not in an emergency room!