Any business faces various levels of risk, but some industries face more than others. In restaurants, for instance, accidents are common. Employees can slip and fall, sometimes resulting in serious injuries. In fact, the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) found that over 3 million employees are injured each year from slip and fall related accidents. Additionally, the NFSI found that these incidents costs employers $70 billion annually.
It’s not just slippery surfaces that restaurant owners have to worry about either. Employees are exposed to risk of injuries from sharp knives and hot surfaces. Laceration and burn injuries account for a combined 33 percent of worker’s compensation claims for restaurants.
The good thing is, insurance can provide protection for restaurant owners and employees. Workers compensation insurance is often mandated by states for this reason. The policy covers medical and rehabilitation expenses for employees who are injured while working, as well as any lost salaries if the employee cannot return to work. Without it, a restaurant owner would have to shell out a substantial amount of money from their own pocket in legal and medical fees, and the business’ reputation would take a hit as well.
Aside from carrying adequate restaurant insurance, it is essential to make safety a priority not only to avoid facing claims, but also to maintain a healthy workplace and lower the chances of accidents.
Inspections and training
Your staff is the most critical part of your restaurant, and ensuring that the equipment they are using is safe and that they have the proper training to know how to safely operate it is essential.
- Conduct routine examinations of the kitchen and prep areas
- Make sure all the equipment is in working order
- Always follow health and safety standards set by OSHA, state, and local health departments
- Regularly train employees on safety procedures and how to properly handle equipment
One of the best ways to minimize Workers Compensation claims it to reduce the risk of injuries in the first place.
Burn Injuries are common, since working a kitchen often requires close contact with hot equipment. To minimize the risk, restaurant owners should:
- Mandate that all employees wear proper clothing when working in the kitchen
Don’t overcrowd the stoves and ovens; this will minimize the chance of someone accidentally touching the hot surface
Punctures, Cuts, and Lacerations
The kitchen area has a lot of sharp objects used in preparing and cooking food, which means punctures, cuts, and lacerations happen. Working with peelers, scissors, and knives make employees prone to different kinds of wounds and cuts. To reduce the risks of sustaining cuts or lacerations:
- Use only high-quality knives and other tools used to cut, chop or slice food
- Use the right kitchen tool based on its specifications
- Keep all knives sharp
- Clean cutting equipment after every use
- Place non-slip mats underneath the cutting boards to keep them in place
- Make sure that the first aid kit has bandages and other supplies to treat cuts and lacerations
Slips and Falls
A busy restaurant kitchen can have a slippery floor, food debris, and grease buildup that can lead to slips, trips, and falls. If not addressed, someone may sustain serious injuries. To prevent this from happening, keep these things in mind:
- Place warning signs to inform people if the floor is slippery
- Keep all counters and walkways free from clutter
- Maintain a clean work area by cleaning food spills and debris as soon as possible
- Check all water pipes and drainage systems to ensure that there are no leaks
Muscle Sprains and Strains
Working in a restaurant often means lifting heavy objects or doing specific tasks repetitively, which can result in muscle injuries. Here are ways to keep these at bay:
- Before lifting any heavy objects, make sure to pinpoint where it should be put down
- Lift the object properly—straight back, bent knees
- Take a break every now and then when doing a repetitive task
- Do some simple exercises to keep the blood flowing throughout the body
Accidents can happen anywhere but the risk can be minimized. The guidelines mentioned above can be beneficial in reducing the risks of employees being injured while working. Remember, healthy and happy employees are productive employees, which will help keep the day-to-day operations running smoothly. Bear in mind that safety is, and should be, a priority, not only for the sake of the employees but also the restaurant's reputation and success in the industry.
Emily Lazration is the Content Marketing Specialist at CoverWallet, a tech company that makes it easy for businesses to understand, buy and manage commercial insurance online. She has written for several outlets including Inc., Ooma, and Fundera covering small business news and advice.