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'Barista Wrist:' RSI Injuries Are Real

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on August 04, 2011 9:42 AM

Though you'd think that the only way to obtain a repetitive strain injury (RSI) like carpal tunnel or tennis elbow is to spend a bit too much time at the computer or in competitive play, the truth is that every person who works with their hands is at risk.

Even coffeehouse employees, who are reporting the existence of "barista wrist" in increasing numbers.

And subsequently ramping up owners' workers' compensation fees.

Making a cup of delicious coffee is an art form that involves the extensive use of one's hands, wrists, and arms. Baristas make the same movements hundreds of times a week, increasing pressure and strain on tendons, ligaments, and nerves.

This is even truer for those who spend a lot of time tamping, or packing espresso.

Like more typical on-the-job injuries, barista wrist, which may be as serious as carpal tunnel or a mild form of tendinitis, is covered under workers' compensation laws as an RSI.

Your insurance will need to pay for medical care, and you may temporarily be out of an employee.

Like all RSIs, there are dozens of ways to improve your employees' workspace to cut down on the instance of barista wrist.

David Shomer told Food Republic that he's created an ergonomic workspace with properly sized counters, special tools, and training.

Another coffee shop owner told the site that, in addition to teaching proper techniques, she helps her employees with posture and wrist exercises to diffuse the pressure.

If you own a coffeehouse, you should consider looking into ways to prevent barista wrist. It can save you a lot of money.

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