Thousands of tourists stream to the Coachella Valley each year looking for memorable experiences. If you work in the kitchen of a restaurant or hotel, the visitors will rely on your help to make their holidays unforgettable. However, most of them will spare no thought for the hazards you face where you work behind the scenes.
You will no doubt be aware of most of the occupational dangers of your job; however, some not-so-obvious injuries can have long-term consequences. For example, do you even know what Hallux Rigidus is and how to prevent it?
Most common kitchen dangers
While the clatter of pots and pans, the sounds of steam, and the risks of scalding liquids and surfaces are apparent for anyone who peeks into a busy restaurant kitchen, the most significant risks could go unnoticed. While you might be aware that an accident can happen in the blink of an eye, do you know that some life-altering injuries can be progressive and only cause problems after years of exposure?
- Tennis Elbow: Surprisingly, this injury has nothing to do with tennis but with repetitive elbow motion stress instead. Also called tendonitis, tennis elbow develops from hours of slicing, chopping and dicing -- par for the course in peak tourism periods.
- Backaches and pain: While you might think aches and pains from long hours on your feet come with the job, the truth is that arthritis can develop, which could limit your mobility in years to come. In addition, bending, lifting heavy pots and pans, and other actions put a severe strain on your back and shoulders.
- Hallux Rigidus: Also known as Chef's Foot, this condition affects people who spend hours standing. It is arthritis in the big toe joint that causes stiffness and chronic pain in the toe, so much so that it could hamper your ability to walk.
- Burns: Never lose sight of the ever-present kitchen hazard of heat. Hot surfaces and pots filled with scalding water or oil pose burn risks. While these are some of the more obvious kitchen hazards, lifting the lid off a pot or pan can cause an unanticipated burn injury.
- Cuts: Along with the recognized hazards posed by knives, cleavers and other sharp tools, equipment like graters, mandolin slicers and bladed equipment can cause severe cuts and even amputation injuries.
Being aware of the lesser-known risks of your job might keep you in the kitchen where you enjoy your ability to create the magic tourists seek and earn a regular wage -- both of which you could lose if you are carted off to a hospital or find you have to quit a job you love because your back, feet and elbows are giving in. You should take frequent rest breaks throughout the day and seek medical care if those breaks no longer ease the pain.
The California workers' compensation insurance program will cover your medical expenses, and if you lose workdays, you will get a wage-replacement package. Do not hesitate if the process seems daunting because an experienced workers' compensation attorney can assist with the navigation of the claims process.