We all know a great maintenance person makes the difference in a GOOD STORE and a GREAT STORE.  Trying to find a replacement can be much more costly than a crew member as these team members are highly skilled.  Your maintenance employees will perform multiple unrelated tasks inside and outside of the restaurant.  This includes unloading trucks, pulling out equipment, climbing on the roof, performing heavy cleaning, and working from ladders. These are tasks that the Crew and Manager’s do not normally perform.  In addition, the majority of the safety efforts focus on the Crew members.  However, these facts suggest we need to focus more attention on non-crew members too.

  • The average cost per injury/claim for a Maintenance employee is 50% higher than an injury to a Crew person.
  • Maintenance employee are accounting for 30% of all claim costs, even though they are less than 5% of the total number of employees
  • Maintenance employees have more severe claims.

Here is a summary of actual recent restaurant injuries where Owner/Operators are giving up their increased profits to pay for preventable maintenance related injuries.

  • Maintenance employee suffers a hernia when lifting a 150 lb AC compressor using ropes and pulleys.  Another worker suffered a torn rotator cuff lifting a similar weighted object. 
    • Prevention:  Maintenance employees should be trained to utilize lifts or assistance from a co-worker when a lift is too heavy.  You should consider outsourcing tasks like AC compressor replacement, parking lot light bulb changing, and other tasks not common to their normal job description.  They will want to do these tasks as they think they are saving you money, but actually they are increasing your costs.
    • Cost/Benefit Analysis:
      • COST:  $250 to get lift truck or outsource
      • BENEFIT:  Safe workers AND could have prevented a $60,000+ claim on their experience mod. for 3 years
    •  Maintenance employee slips in a cooler / not wearing slip resistance shoes. 
      • Prevention:  You’re doing a great job of ensuring your crew and management staff are wearing the required slip resistant shoes, but are you asking your maintenance personnel to wear them too?   Be sure slip resistant shoes are required on your maintenance staff also,  we’re finding major slip and fall claims and falls from higher elevations, such as the roof have occurred with Maintenance employees and these could have been prevented had they been wearing the slip resistant shoes.
      • Cost/Benefit Analysis:
        • COST:  $20 on shoe
        • BENEFIT:  Safe workers AND could have prevented $12,000+ claim on their experience mod. over 3 years
      • A recent injury from a motor vehicle accident could be a $250,000 claim. 
          • Prevention:  Your Maintenance or other employees may need to travel to between stores or to run errands.   Have any employees who drive for your business screened by running a MVR to ensure they have a clean driving record.  Also, be sure to coach them to drive only when necessary, and to operate the vehicle safely
          • Cost/Benefit Analysis:
            • COST:  $5 to run MVR and require clean driving record
            • BENEFIT:  Safer workers AND fewer claims

        Other Techniques and Questions

        Are maintenance employees also planning their tasks to avoid peak times when in high traffic areas?  If the task does need to be performed in a high traffic area during a peak time, does the maintenance employee take care to ensure that tools, equipment, bright vest, and equipment parts do not present a trip hazard to other Crew members?

        Do Maintenance employees attend safety meetings? Maintenance employees should attend safety meetings, and assist in the training, where possible.

        Is a lockout/tagout program in place to isolate power sources for equipment being worked on by a maintenance employee?  This is  important as there will be many employees working in close quarters, and one may inadvertently throw a switch on a piece of equipment that is being serviced.

        Maintenance employees should receive more training than a crew member (due to broader job duties) and be held to the same level of safety than other employees.  Take action now to reduce the frequency and severity of your claims, impact the bottom line of your restaurants, and ensure the Maintenance employee is able to return home to his or her family in the same condition as the day began.

        Now is the time to care even more about your people and profits.