Workplace injuries are far too common in quick-service restaurants. A poll taken by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health in 2015 found that 87 percent of fast-food restaurant employees had experienced a workplace injury in the prior year and 78 percent said they suffered multiple injuries during the same period.
On-the-job injuries and illnesses not only impact the injured employee but can lead to potentially higher workers’ compensation insurance premiums, lost productivity and out-of-pocket expenses for the business. That’s why it’s important for restaurant owners to develop a culture of safety in the workplace.
One of the first steps to take is to identify common causes of workplace accidents and implement proper safety measures. Here are three common risks restaurant owners can address to make their business safer.
Slips, trips, and falls
Wet or greasy floors can heighten the risk of slips, trips and falls. At a minimum, all employees should be required to wear non-slip footwear. Placing non-slip mats in areas that are prone to excess moisture—such as in front of sinks, cooking stations and ice machines—can also reduce the risk of an employee slipping and getting injured.
Another easy way to prevent injuries is to be sure restaurants have a regular floor cleaning schedule, which includes de-greasing areas prone to excessive buildup, such as in front of fryers and grills. Cleaning up spills immediately, placing proper signage and having separate mops for front and back-of-house clean-up are also important points to remember.
Cuts and lacerations
Cutting, slicing, peeling and dicing are usually daily procedures in restaurants, however, one false move can lead to serious injuries. If not used properly, sharp knives and equipment like mandolins or slicers, can cause deep cuts or even the loss of fingers.
Restaurant workers should be properly trained on the safe use of this equipment and they should be required to wear cut-resistant gloves when working with them. Keeping knife blades sharp makes them easier and more accurate to use, reducing the risk of injury.
Even when precautions are taken, accidents can still happen. First aid supplies should always be available, in date, and easily accessible.
Working in a busy kitchen with stoves, fryers, grills, ovens, heat lamps and hot beverage machines means that restaurant workers have an increased risk of getting burned. Personal protective equipment such as gloves or mitts, as well as regular machine maintenance, can reduce the likelihood and severity of an injury.
It’s easy to assume that everybody understands how to protect themselves from getting injured, but conducting formal employee training should be a part of every restaurant’s plan. Cleaning floors thoroughly and regularly, using knives and other equipment safely, and wearing the necessary personal protective equipment should be the expectation of all employees.
By being aware of common restaurant hazards, restaurant owners and managers can implement the right protocols to reduce risks and keep employees safe.
The information provided is intended to provide a general overview. This information is not legal advice and should not be relied on as such. EMPLOYERS makes no warranties for the accuracy, adequacy, or completeness of the information provided, and will not be responsible for any actions taken based on the information contained herein. If you have legal questions or need legal advice, please consult an attorney.