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Keeping Your Bartender Healthy & Injury-Free

May 1, 2020
June 21, 2023
Bartender pouring 3 pink cosmo drinks

Safety is paramount in many professions but it’s often overlooked behind the bar. After all, a bartender’s primary job is to mix drinks and interact with the customers. Most bar and restaurant owners mistakenly believe the worst that could happen is a bartender getting cut on broken glass. 

Mats are laid down on the floor to prevent painful slips and falls. Bars and restaurants   also have a first-aid kit, as required by law. This should be enough to keep bartenders healthy and free from injuries, but  other issues  can affect mixologists over time. 

Bartender safety is important for several reasons, the main one being profitability. An injured bartender can’t work and regulars do have their favorite server. Regulars may end up taking their business to a competitor if their bartender is gone too long. Then there’s the possibility of lawsuits if the work environment is unsafe. To protect your staff and business here are some tips on how to prevent injuries and keep your bartenders healthy. 

broken glass bottle
Broken Glass is a huge cause of injuries for bartenders

How to Have a Safe Environment Behind the Bar

Creating a safe work environment for bartenders isn’t difficult or expensive. It only takes common sense and implementing good habits. 

Safety Training

Bartender safety training should be the first step.  The training program should cover all aspects of the bartender’s job. This includes, but isn’t limited to, the following best practices:

  • Teach the correct way to hold a knife when cutting fruit for garnishes.
  • Glasses should be immediately placed in a rack for washing. Empty glasses left on the edge of the bar or a back counter can  accidentally fall, resulting in cuts. 
  • All spills on the floor should be immediately wiped up. This includes melting ice cubes that can cause slick spots. 
  • Full and empty kegs should be out of the way. Bartenders and barbacks also need to be trained on the proper way to lift kegs to prevent muscle injuries. Heavy lifting is one of the main causes of bartender shoulder and back pain. 

These are simple steps that must be included in a training program. Business in the front and behind the bar will flow more smoothly, while  decreasing the risk for injury. 

Proper Technique

Technique doesn’t only apply to how a drink is made and its presentation to the customer. It also includes preventing common injuries. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a common ailment with bartenders, even though not many mixologists consider it until painful symptoms appear. 

Bartenders must pay attention to small aches and twinges in their joints and muscles. Shaking and pouring drinks for several hours a day will take a toll on wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees, and even feet. Shift weight and change positions often to relieve pressure. Also, pay attention to  wrist motion.  Take a minute between serving drinks to stretch out tight muscles and joints. Proper stretching technique is something every bartender should know. 

Stress Proper Footwear

Bartenders are on their feet throughout most of their shifts. There might be a brief slow period in between rushes but it usually isn’t long enough to relieve foot pain. Thick rubber mats not only provide traction but can also provide some cushioning. However, that is not enough when a bartender is standing for eight or more hours a day. 

High heels are not appropriate footwear behind the bar. Not only will the shoes cause foot pain, but they’re also unsafe. If high heels are part of a female bartender’s uniform, management is encouraged  to change their dress policy to a low heeled shoe,. Sandals are not only unsafe and unsanitary, but it’s also against health code regulations to wear open-toed shoes behind the bar. 

Sneakers with cushioned soles are the best footwear for bartenders, They will have traction, meet health regulations, and have the extra padding to keep their feet healthy. An added benefit for managers is that they might see an increase in productivity from their bartenders. When their feet aren’t sore, it’s easier for bartenders to keep up with multiple orders and engage customers.

Keep Your Bartenders Free From Injuries

One final tip is for management to make the bartender training program visible. Post the information in an office or break room for easy review. Pay attention to how bartenders pour, serve, and lift kegs and cases of beer. Correct their movements if  they could be detrimental to their health. 

At Work-Fit we specialize in preventing workplace injuries. We understand that healthy employees are essential for your business’s success. We are here to answer any questions and help your company become a safe place for employees. Contact Work-Fit today to see how we can improve your workplace environment. 


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