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Five Ways Restaurant Servers Get Hurt

Professional cooking is a high-risk job, as a feature in this Sunday's New York Times graphically reminded readers. But chefs aren't the only restaurant workers stoically sustaining bodily harm: Restaurant servers get hurt too. Here, a guide to the top five physical dangers facing waiters and waitresses.

1. Hot plates

Ever notice how quick servers are to caution "Careful, hot plate" - even when the plate in question is nearly cool to the touch? It's a fair bet that plate was smoldering when the server fetched it from the window, and he or she likely has the burned fingers to prove it. Line cooks are notorious for letting one dish bake beneath a heat lamp while they prepare the other entrees on a ticket, creating a heat hazard for unsuspecting servers.

2. Precariously stacked pots and pans

Servers are expert at stacking plates, but back-of-the-house staffers aren't always so punctilious when they deliver their used cookware to the dish room during dinner rush. Those teetering towers of pots and pans have a tendency to topple onto servers, bruising their feet and shredding their toenails.

3. Wet floors

A floor left wet from mopping isn't typically a threat to restaurant-goers, who rarely move through dining rooms at high speed. But servers who dash through the scene of a drink spill before the busser's had a chance to set up a bright yellow warning sign are apt to take spectacular falls.

4. Sick customers

A startling number of servers admit they'll work when sick, but infection's a two-way street in restaurants. Stuck handling saliva-coasted silverware, dirty napkins and - when dealing with the classiest customers - used tissues, servers are constantly exposed to all sorts of nasty germs.

5. Silly uniforms

Besides the damage too-short skirts and cleavage-baring tops do to servers' dignity, they provide little protection in the kitchen. Exposed skin is a magnet for hot water and stinging grease.

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Hanna Raskin
Contact: Hanna Raskin

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