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Physical requirements in food preparation and serving jobs

January 09, 2020

Reaching overhead was required for 44.5 percent of workers in all occupations in 2018. Among food preparation and serving occupations, however, reaching overhead was required for 65.0 percent of workers. Each of the five cook occupations requires most workers to reach overhead. Nearly all cook jobs also require workers to reach at or below the shoulder.

Percent of workers or workday with selected job requirements, all workers and workers in food preparation and serving occupations, 2018
Occupation Reaching at or below
the shoulder
Percent of workday
standing or walking
Stooping Reaching overhead Medium strength

All workers

81.9% 59.4% 56.8% 44.5% 35.5%

Food preparation and serving related

96.7 96.4 75.9 65.0 56.0

Chefs

97.7 85.0 56.5 62.5 -

Fast food cooks

93.3 98.2 64.5 67.3 51.6

Institution and cafeteria cooks

98.0 93.8 87.1 74.3 68.8

Restaurant cooks

96.7 97.8 71.5 72.9 75.5

Short order cooks

97.2 97.1 81.2 75.2 68.6

Note: Dash means data do not meet publication standards.

Workers in food preparation and serving occupations spend most of their workday standing or walking. Fast food cooks spent 98.2 percent of their workday standing or walking in 2018. They were followed closely by restaurant cooks (97.8 percent of workday), short order cooks (97.1 percent of workday), and institution and cafeteria cooks (93.8 percent of workday).

Fifty-six percent of food preparation and serving related jobs required a medium strength level in 2018. Even higher percentages of cook jobs required medium strength.

The average maximum weight restaurant cooks were required to lift or carry on the job in 2018 was 36.6 pounds. Institution and cafeteria cooks were required to lift 34.3 pounds, and short order cooks were required to lift 33.8 pounds.

Average maximum weight in pounds lifted or carried on the job for all workers and workers in food preparation and serving occupations, 2018
Occupation Pounds

All workers

27.1

Food preparation and serving related occupations

27.2

Restaurant cooks

36.6

Institution and cafeteria cooks

34.3

Short order cooks

33.8

Chefs

32.5

Fast food cooks

30.3

These data are from the Occupational Requirements Survey. For more information, see “Occupational Requirements in the United States — 2018.”

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Physical requirements in food preparation and serving jobs on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2020/physical-requirements-in-food-preparation-and-serving-jobs.htm (visited July 14, 2020).

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