Ergonomics: Bakery Department Tips

Ergonomics for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders: Guidelines for Retail Grocery Stores


Applying good ergonomics can help prevent injury in the bakery department.

• 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.

small bag

• 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 ambidextrous scoops which allow workers to use either hand to dispense dough or batter. 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. Icing that is too thick will be difficult to squeeze through decorating bags. If icing is mixed in the bakery, add liquid to the recipe or 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.

bakery long side

bakery frosting

• Use a step stool to reach items on high shelves.

• Look for cases and counter designs that allow the employee to hand customers their selections without high or long reaches.


These recommendations are based on information from grocery stores. OSHA recognizes that other bakery operations may be different and that other solutions may be more appropriate for those operations.

Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20210

Updated on: 12/10/09
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