Does anyone know of specific studies or documentation of the ergonomic risks of fry baskets in restaurants? I have searched but have not found any in public records or web searches. Governement statistics searches are too broad and cannot narrow down injuries to specific causes.
I have heard in a quote that there are "25,000 claims per year in food service relating to carpal tunnel problems and that 1/3 of these are attributable to fry basket use." I cannot find the source of this and no citation was given. It was originally stated by a representative of Bargreen Ellingson.
I have done some work in this industry and indeed, have seen several problems in using the fry baskets. I don’t know of any specific studies on this topic, but some models of fryers are better than others. Some baskets have to flipped over to empty, while others have a bottom that unlatches to empty. Many times, workers lift 2 baskets at once.
I did some reviews of these jobs a number of years ago but didn't find any specific studies to go by. I reviewed the top loading baskets with the extended handles:
I also noted that these tasks are performed rapidly and often involve greater force than required due to the speed of activity. Also, when combined with other gripping activities (particulary at drive thru) there is frequent forceful gripping and wrist deviations that can become an issue.
Don't even get me started about the fry cages at KFC and the demands on the shoulders.
This is an issue for us, as we cook A LOT of fries, and other fried foods as well. We have automatic fryers, so that when the food is done, the baskets rise up on their own, and drain. This eliminates the need for the cast member to lift the basket up out of the oil. This does not eliminate the need, however, to lift up the basket further, then dump it. We have evaluated a couple prototypes of "bottom'dumping" baskets for fries, but we have not been able to find one that works effectively – the gripping required to "dump" has been excessive. So, although the turning of the basket over is eliminated (with the bottom dumper), they still have to lift it, then grip to release the bottom, and mechanically this hasn't been a big improvement, even with lowering the container where the fries will be dumped. I am not aware of any research, and would love to see any that exists. The risk factors are significant, with the long lever arm of the fry basket, the load, and the repetitive nature of the task.
I’m finding that there are no known or published ergnomic assessments of the fry basket use. I’m familiar with the drop bottom basket, but it still puts the wrist in ulnar deviation to lift and move the basket.
I have utility patents pending on a new change to the fry basket (and large fry pans, etc) that keeps the hand and wrist in neutral throughout the lifting and dumping task and greatly relieves stress on the wrist and hand. The lifting force is counterbalanced to transfer the load to biceps instead of forearm and wrist.
My problem in getting it to market is that a lot of potential sales companies have not seen articles on this problem. Evidence is scarce, but the problem is obvious to anyone who is experienced in ergonomic assessments. Any articles or even a 3rd party opinion would be helpful in my cause toward getting this to market.
Your feedback is exactly what I’m hearing from any restaurant that does deep frying, whether fast food or sit down restaurant. See my prior reply to Gary that I just sent a few minutes ago. I believe I have the answer, but I have to find a company to license the manufacturing and sales to, in order to bring this to market. Any evidence or testimonials are helpful for me as evidence. Hoping to have this out soon. If you have testimonials or statistics about injuries from the existing basket design it would be very helpful to have.
Maybe you should approach a university that teaches biomechanics to see if they can do biomechanical comparison of several types of fry baskets. Sounds like an interesting study!
I agree, having a University do a formal study would be great. Any takers out there?? Any HFE programs with a grad student looking for a great project?? We might be a good test site. I'd love to be part of a collaborative project.
And Bud, if you have something you'd like to test, we'd be happy to give it a try!
Joanette, I have several working prototypes that could be used. I need someplace that will try these in a vigorous setting and use alongside conventional and drop basket for employee feedback on comfort and preferences. A university doing the study as a 3rd party would be excellent. I may check at my alma mater, Oregon State to see if their HFE dept would want to take it on. Where are you located?
I checked with the ergonomics department at OSU, but they do not do this type of research. Still looking for a contact at a university to do a study on this new fry basket handle design. Any ideas out there?
You could reach out to OT/PT/Industrial Hygiene/Human Factors programs and suggest this topic for a Masters Thesis/Project. May not be as in depth as a research study but may be a good start.
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