Working in a retail bakery environment might not seem like the most physically taxing occupation to an outsider, but bakery owners, managers and staff, know that the days get long and the work is hard. While every bakery operation differs, a few key elements prevent unnecessary strain on staff.
- Position cake-decorating turntables so that the cake is at about elbow height for a more comfortable working position. Adjustable height tables are one solution, but you can also put a riser under the turntable or put in platforms for shorter people to stand on.
- Use a smaller decorating bag whenever possible to reduce the stress on the worker's hands. The larger the bag, the more force required to squeeze it.
- Have an adequate number of mixing bowls available to reduce the need to transfer icing or batters that are mixed in the store to other containers.
- Use footrests and anti-fatigue mats in areas where workers stand for prolonged periods.
- Make sure that there is toe-clearance under counters and other work surfaces.
- Put buckets of icing and batter on risers (e.g., small stands or empty buckets) to raise them to the best work zone.
- Use smaller containers of flour, sugar, salt and other supplies to reduce the weights that must be handled.
- When lifting, keep large bags and containers of ingredients close to the body to reduce stress on the back.
- Use carts or rolling stands to move heavy items like tubs of dough or bags of flour.
- Keep wheels on bakery carts well maintained. Wheels that are in poor repair can be difficult to push and should be removed from service until they can be repaired.
Whenever possible, break up continuous activities such as cake decorating and dough handling with less strenuous tasks during the shift.
- Use a short-handled scoop to put icing into decorating bags. Shorter handles reduce the stress to the wrist.
- Use spatulas, spoons, and other utensils that fit the workers hand (not too wide or too narrow) and are not slippery.
- Work from the long side of baking pans to reduce reaches when handling dough.
- Use powered mixers whenever possible to mix coloring into icing or purchase colored icing. This reduces the stress to workers' hands and arms from manually mixing colors into icing.
- Ensure that the icing is of correct consistency. If icing is mixed in the bakery, warm the icing to obtain the correct consistency. If icing is purchased in buckets, store the buckets at room temperature or warm them before use – cold icing is thicker and hard to squeeze through decorating bags.
- Consider using cake decorating methods that require less use of manual frosting bags. Using an air brush or mechanical dispurser whenever possible can reduce the stress on workers' hands.
- Whenever possible work from the long side of the donut glazing area to reduce reaches and forces on the back. Some glazing stations can be pulled out so that workers can work from the side.
- Look for cases and counter designs that allow the employee to hand customers their selections without high or long reaches.