Just as proper planning helps prevent a dish from being cut from the menu, it can also help avoid a business interruption. Cintas Corporation, a nationwide leader in restaurant facility solutions, identified the top 13 hidden risks to restaurant operations in 2013.
By identifying potential risks before they become a problem, restaurant owners and managers can reduce their exposure and maximize their bottom line by ensuring the proper programs are in place.
“Every year, we receive calls from restaurants wanting to use our services after something has happened, like a slip and fall or a fire,” says David Collette, director of foodservice. “By identifying these risks before an incident occurs, restaurants can keep their operations running smoothly and better protect workers and guests.”
The top 13 hidden risks to restaurants include:
- Slip and falls: According to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI), more than 3 million foodservice employees are injured each year from slip-and-fall accidents. With an average cost of almost $21,000 per claim, this is a substantial risk when you consider the number of guests who also fall each year in a foodservice establishment. Protect floors, workers, and patrons with a comprehensive safe-floor program that includes deep cleaning, protection, and ongoing maintenance.
- Broken doors and locks: Compromised entryways can pose substantial security risks even in the safest neighborhoods. Whether it’s late on Christmas Eve or in the middle of a storm, equip restaurants with the resources to immediately fix broken doors or locks so that operations can continue running smoothly.
- Dirty restrooms: In a recent poll, Americans identified dirty restrooms of one of the top three reasons they would not return to a restaurant (along with dirty silverware and odor). Patrons often equate dirty restrooms with dirty kitchens, so a regular restroom maintenance program is critical to a restaurant’s overall success and profitability.
- Cooking fires: By knowing that the majority of restaurant fires occur around 10 a.m., restaurant operators can develop a fire protection system that prevents or limits the spread of cooking fires. Ensure that hood suppression systems are regularly inspected by a licensed fire protection provider so they are always in working order and ready to extinguish a fire. Also, have your kitchen hood and exhaust ducts cleaned of excess grease and fuel at regular intervals.
- Identity theft: In an industry notorious for high employee turnover, a secure document management program reduces opportunity for exposure of private information from personnel records. This program should involve properly shredding application forms, payroll stubs, and any other documents with potentially sensitive personal information, and can also extend to financial documents such as credit card receipts, billing statements, and tax papers.
- Cuts and burns: Limit the impact of cuts and burns by keeping a regularly stocked first-aid cabinet available. By treating wounds with the proper ointments and bandages that are made specifically for the foodservice environment, you limit the opportunity for infection or additional irritation. Exposure to blood-borne pathogens (BBP) are a top concern in foodservice environments, so training workers on how to correctly handle incidents with exposure to BBP and providing them with the correct personal protective equipment will limit their risk, reduce Workers’ Compensation costs, and maintain productivity.
- Unfocused employees: Regardless of the restaurant’s size, front- and back-of-the-house staff will often be asked to work extra hours to cover for no-show or sick employees. Workers must also perform additional responsibilities, such as restroom cleaning, mat cleaning, and clearing entryways. By working with a facility services provider that provides ongoing cleaning and restocking services on a predetermined schedule, you can limit task overload so employees can focus on taking care of guests.
- Ugly floors: Worn out floors that show excess dirt and wear can serve as an indicator of the overall restaurant cleanliness and act as a deterrent to business. Protect floors by covering entryways and high-traffic areas with matting. To prevent an “ink-pad” effect, where mats actually contribute to the spread of dirt through a building, launder mats on a regular basis to keep them in top condition.
- Untrained workers: You never know when someone will choke, experience a heart attack, or a have a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) incident in your restaurant. Give workers the skills, products, and training they need to help save a life. Just as life-saving automated external defibrillators (AEDs) require ongoing maintenance, regularly provide training updates so staff can confidently respond to any situation.
- Norovirus: Affecting more than 20 million people each year, norovirus can often spread through hard surfaces, improperly washed fruits and vegetables, and uncooked food. An outbreak stemming from a restaurant can create a negative image of the restaurant’s cleanliness, so restaurants can benefit from a rigorous food-safety and surface-cleaning program to prevent norovirus.
- Missing fire extinguishers: According to the U.S. Fire administration, an estimated 5,900 restaurant building fires occur annually, resulting in $172 million in property loss. Like hood suppression and sprinkler systems, have a licensed fire protection provider regularly inspect your fire extinguishers to make sure they are in working order and a hung in the appropriate areas. Train employees so they know how to use a handheld fire extinguisher should a fire occur.
- Improperly mixed chemicals: Chemical concentrates that require manual dilution can put employees at risk. Workers can improperly mix chemicals, resulting in exposure to potentially toxic fumes. To limit this opportunity, restaurants should use dilution control systems that automatically dispense the proper ratios of chemical to water, ensuring that cleaning solutions are used as directed.
- Natural disasters: As Hurricane Katrina and Sandy have shown, natural disasters can happen in any part of the country and leave a devastating impact on restaurants. Limit the impact of nature’s wrath by identifying emergency preparation plans before a storm occurs. This should include employee shelters and meeting spots, emergency contacts, and preselected vendors who can assist with recovery efforts.
“Whether someone falls from a slip and fall or sudden cardiac arrest, a restaurant operator always needs to be prepared,” Collette says. “By knowing the top risks, they can have the appropriate action plans and resources in place to avoid business interruption and minimize costs.”