Most employers want to foster a culture of safety in the workplace, while others are more lax in their approach to keeping workers safe from harm even though it benefits them to keep a safe workplace.
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, the food service industry experienced more than 190,000 injuries in 2016, resulting in more than 9,000 days away from work for injured employees.
Here are four of the most common hazards for restaurant workers:
Cuts and lacerations—Whether it’s a broken wine glass, a paring knife or a blade in a meat-slicing machine, workers are exposed to hazards which can cause minor to life-threatening cut or laceration injuries. Ensure that you and your co-workers have been trained in proper handling and storage of sharp objects and glassware.
Burns—It’s a rare restaurant worker who hasn’t experienced at least one burn at work. There are opportunities to get burned everywhere, including carrying piping-hot dishes, preparing food, serving hot drinks, or reaching over a candle. All employees should be trained in the proper use of equipment and machines used to prepare hot food or drinks. Staff should also learn basic first aid, as burns are one of the most common injuries.
Slip, trip and fall injuries—Wet floors, electrical cords, stairs and transitions in flooring material between different locations in the restaurant can all lead to an injury from falling, so make sure your work areas are safe. Check that there are non-slip mats where slipping is a hazard. Floors should be kept clean, dry and clutter-free, including wrapping up and stowing cords for equipment.
Strains/sprains—Restaurant staff are constantly lifting, reaching for or carrying any number of things, often leaning over patrons and other co-workers to do so. It’s easy to strain one’s back or shoulders through improper balance or body positioning. Ensure you and staff are trained how to safely lift and carry heavy or awkward items and that you avoid trying to carry too much dinnerware at once or carrying containers of food, liquids or ice that are too full for safety.
Do your part to ensure a safe workplace and ask your employer to provide a workplace safety training program, if there isn’t one already. By taking some time to identify work hazards with your co-workers, make a plan for resolving them and engage in positive conversations about your ideas with your managers, you and your co-workers can make your restaurant a safer place to work for everyone.
If you’re a restaurant employee with a work-related injury, speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer near you who can guide you through protecting your rights and discussing your potential compensation.