3 Health Side Effects of Working In The Restaurant

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Working in the restaurant industry has its advantages. The fast-paced, social environment provides many workers with decent pay, room for advancement, and the platform to meet new people every day. Although the restaurant industry has seen no decline in job opportunities, those who work within the industry can tell you first hand, that working in a restaurant also has its disadvantages.

The stress of the fast-paced environment can be both physically and mentally taxing on workers. Both front of house staff (waiters, bussers, and greeters) and back of the house staff (chefs, line workers, dishwashers), experience several risks each day they clock in for work. Below, are some of the top health risks for restaurant works and solutions on how to stay healthy:

Increased Risk of Illness

No matter where you work, the possibility of getting sick from the work environment is likely. However, for restaurant workers, who encounter various risk factors, getting sick is more common than not. Line workers, for instance, are responsible for helping the chef prepare meals. This leads to constant exposure to vast temperature changes. From going into the larger freezer unit to grab food or perishable items to running back into the warm temperatures of the kitchen to help, the constant exposure could quickly lead to a cold.

Front house staff also face increased risk for illness. As they are responsible for interacting the most with customers, the chance of outside germs and illnesses entering the restaurants from customers is high. As they handle cups, plates, silverware, and engage with customers any contact with bacteria leaves them susceptible to many illnesses.

Solution: Though some bacteria and illnesses are unavoidable when working in a high-traffic environment like a restaurant, however, there are things you can do to minimize it. For those dealing with temperature exposure, consider keeping a small jacket or sweater near the freezer area, this way, you can stay warm. For frontline staff, washing your hands frequently and even keeping hand sanitizer on you for seasons where common illnesses like the flu are prevalent.

Poor Eating Habits

Those who work in a restaurant tend to have poor eating habits. This can go one of two ways. The first is eating too much. When surrounded by delicious smelling food all day, workers often gorge on food throughout their shift. The other way this happens is when workers aren’t eating enough. Long shifts, overtime, and minimal breaks can minimize the time staff has to eat.

Solution: Eating too much or not enough are both bad for your health. The best way to remedy both issues would be to pack your own healthy snacks and meals. If you get tempted to indulge in something you saw on the menu or you’ve gone a while without a break, you can grab a snack to satisfy your cravings and stay healthy.

Increased Chance of Drinking

Most restaurants today try to provide the full customer experience. This not only includes great food but music, entertainment, and alcoholic beverages. When working in a social environment where there’s a lot of drinking going on, it can get tempting to want to try a few drinks yourself. Though a drink or two after work won’t hurt anyone, too much drinking can leave you in an accident on the side of the road.

Solution: Your best bet is to steer clear of alcohol during working hours. Whether a customer offers you a drink or you feel inclined to try the new flavored drinks you saw on the menu, it is best to resist this temptation. If your job does require you to drink or you can’t resist the temptation to drink, you can save yourself from getting hurt while driving, you can install an interlock device on your car. You blow into the breathalyzer and if you’re over the limit, your car won’t allow you to drive, keeping you safe.

Restaurant workers face several health risks daily. Though many of these risks come with the territory of working in a high-paced, high-traffic area, there are things you can do to minimize the effects it has on your health. Determine if you’re susceptible to any of these risks and use the above-mentioned solutions to stay safe and healthy on and off the job. 

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