Restaurant and food service is one of the largest industries in the United States. As a business owner and manager in this industry, you face unique challenges ranging from hiring, training, and retaining employees; service quality; rising costs; and regulatory demands, to name a few. Additionally, workplace accidents can have a huge impact on your business and profits due to increased insurance costs, lost productivity, and work time, hiring and training temporary replacement employees, repairing or replacing damaged equipment, and tarnished business reputation.

There are many safety risks present in a restaurant. To keep your business safe for employees as well as customers, it is important to be aware of hazards and minimize them as much as possible. Proactive restaurant safety and workers’ compensation programs offer the best way to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses and reduce the costs of doing business.

The following actions are designed to help restaurant operators reduce risk, prevent employee injuries, and lower costs:

  • Understand how work-related employee injury and illness claims impact your workers’ compensation insurance experience modification and how you can reduce long-term insurance premium costs
  • Review and update management best practices on employee hiring, orientation, training, education, and supervisor accountability
  • Know where to send your injured employees for proper medical care
  • Develop transitional tasks to help injured employees return to work
  • Save video recordings of workplace incidents, and document thorough investigations to identify root causes and actions to prevent incident recurrence

Recognize hazards and implement corrective actions before injuries occur. Focus on the following key restaurant employee injury hazards:

  • Slips, trips, and falls are the most costly type of restaurant employee incident. Reduce risk with proper floor care, slip resistant footwear, strategic placement of slip resistant mats, and effective spill clean-up practices.
  • Lacerations are the most frequent injuries among restaurant employees. Sources usually involve knives, slicers, and broken glass. To help reduce laceration injuries, implement a knife-sharpening program, require cut resistant gloves, implement procedures for broken glass that eliminate handling with bare hands and ensures proper disposal, train staff on proper slicer use. When possible and practical, use alternatives to cutting with knives. Food processors and presses can reduce sources of lacerations.
  • Burns are painful and often result in permanent injury. To prevent burns, turn off power and let equipment cool before cleaning. Allow oil to cool and use automated equipment to remove, dispose of, and replace fryer oil. Wear proper personal protective equipment when cooking or cleaning. Regulate the temperature of water and equipment to what is needed to help avoid scalding liquids.
  • Manual material handling tasks can lead to serious employee sprain and strain injuries. Ensure safe storage practices with lighter items on higher and lower shelves. Use the middle shelves (between chest and waist level) for the heavier items. Use assistive devices such as carts and dollies to move heavier loads, equipment, tables, chairs, trays, tubs, and kegs. Train and lead employees in following safe lifting procedures.
  • Work with your insurance agent and workers’ compensation insurance company to assist in evaluating your employee hazards and safety controls.

Effective employee training, supervision, accountability, and engagement are vital in creating awareness and establishing a culture that embraces safety and health.

Source: Zenith Insurance Company Safety & Health