To help restaurants prevent injuries and reduce liabilities, Cintas Corporation released its list of the top four restaurant injuries. From cuts and burns to slips and falls, restaurants can present numerous dangers to an often inexperienced workforce. In fact, one in 20 on-the-job injuries and illnesses worldwide occur at eating and drinking establishments. According to studies from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), for every $1 spent in safety programs, businesses can save between $4 to $6 from costs associated with injuries and fatalities.

“Too often, restaurants take a reactive approach to safety,” says Brian Garry, senior director of foodservice, Cintas Corporation. “Many operators may not realize they are out of first-aid bandages or ointment until an accident occurs. By identifying the top injuries, restaurants can make sure they have the proper products and programs in place to prevent a minor injury from becoming serious.”

The top injuries include:

1. Lacerations and punctures. Due to frequent contact with knives, slicers, and broken dishes and glasses, restaurant staff members can often incur lacerations or puncture wounds. Immediate treatment and disinfection of these wounds can help prevent infection.

2. Burns. From boiling water to fryers and hot stovetops, heat and water burns also create another potential hazard for restaurant workers. As many as one-third of occupational burns occur in restaurants, totaling about 12,000 reported cases per year, although the actual number is projected to be much higher. Minor burns can often be treated with onsite first-aid care.  

3. Sprains and strains. Misplaced or hard-to-reach items can cause worker injury due to overreaching or trips. Restaurant workers can also suffer from strains due to improper lifting. When these injuries occur, analgesic heat rubs, muscle ointments, and aspirin can help reduce pain and maintain productivity.

4. Eye injury. Splashes from grease or sanitizing chemicals frequently used in foodservice environments can result in injury to the eye. Immediate treatment is imperative to preventing long-term eye damage.

“Restaurant owners can mitigate the impact of these common injuries and reduce their liability with a first aid program,” says David Collette, director of marketing, foodservice, Cintas. “Failure to provide workers with access to care can result in lost productivity and the potential for serious injury—a situation every foodservice operator wants to avoid.”

By implementing a first-aid program developed with the specific challenges and injuries of a foodservice operation in mind, restaurants can help protect their workers and reduce exposure.

The following steps can help prepare foodservice operations for common injuries:

1. Install an onsite first-aid cabinet. Place the cabinet in an identifiable location so that all employees can easily access it if an accident occurs.

2. Stock the cabinet with a wide selection of supplies to treat common foodservice injuries.  

3. Make sure the cabinet is restocked on a regular basis.

4. Train and educate employees on proper use of the first-aid items and protocols on how to handle emergency situations

5. Complement first aid initiatives with other safety programs, like AEDs, fire programs, and mat systems

“Providing access to first aid products is only the first step,” Garry says. “A comprehensive program that ensures products are always readily available and employees properly trained is the only way to prepare your foodservice operation for on-the-job injuries.”

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