The ergonomics of wok-flipping

The Effect of Wok Size and Handle Angle on the Maximum Acceptable Weights of Wok Flipping by Male Cooks, a report in the journal Industrial Health, does more than its title reveals. It also shows how to standardise an intricate physical test.

Many professional wok-users use a big one. Almost all of those woks have a straight handle. That’s bad, say Swei-Pi Wu and Cheng-Pin Ho at Huafan University, and Chin-Li Yen at National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, Taiwan.

“[We found that] a small wok [about 36 centimetres across] with an ergonomically bent handle is the optimal design, for male cooks, for the purposes of flipping.”

Professional Asian cooks are prone to shoulder, neck, lower back/waist and finger/wrist aches and injuries. Wok-flipping brings some glaring risk…

So begins this week’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian.

BONUS: Video of one cook’s technique for flipping a wok: