According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.9 million workplace injuries were reported in 2015. Of that 2.9 million, nearly 2.8 million (a staggering 97 percent) of those injuries occurred in service industries including restaurants, bars and coffee shops. On-the-job injuries and illnesses can have many negative effects including lower employee productivity and morale, increased workers’ compensation claims and fines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for unsafe working conditions. With such staggering statistics, it’s important for restaurant owners to foster a safe workplace.
One of the best ways to reduce the likelihood of a workplace accident is to identify common causes and implement proper safety measures.
Here are four common risks restaurant owners can address to make their businesses safer.
1) Slips, trips and falls. These common mishaps are the number one cause of worker injuries across all industries. For restaurants, wet or greasy floors can heighten the risk. Keep a mop and bucket in an easily accessible area, make sure all spills are cleaned up immediately, and use separate mops for front-of-house and back-of-house spills so that kitchen grease isn’t brought into public areas. Place anti-skid rubber mats near sinks, stoves and dishwashers, and be sure to replace them if they become worn or warped.
2) Hazardous Materials. In June 2016, OSHA added new materials to its hazard communications (HazCom) list, including many common kitchen chemicals that may not immediately come to mind, such as bleach, oven cleaners and ammonia. To prevent inhalation injuries or illnesses, clearly label all materials and review specific handling procedures with all employees. Make sure workers who come in contact with these materials wear protective gear including face masks, aprons and gloves.
3) Cuts and lacerations. To reduce the risk of cuts and lacerations, make sure all workers know how to properly handle slicing equipment and kitchen knives. Keep a first aid kit stocked and easily accessible.
4) Burns. Hot ovens, boiling water and splattered oil can increase the likelihood of a severe kitchen burn. Make sure workers use proper safety gear including gloves, hats and aprons. If a burn occurs, immediately rinse the affected area under cool running water and loosely wrap it with a gauze bandage.
It’s a good idea to post emergency contact information as well as the name, number and location of the closest hospital or urgent care clinic in an area where employees can quickly find it. EMPLOYERS® also offers its policyholders access to a 24-hour telephone hotline, staffed by registered nurses from in-network medical providers. This injured employee hotline allows injured workers to get a fast and professional medical consultation without a potentially unnecessary and costly trip to an emergency room.
For more information on restaurant safety, including signage and other resources, contact your state’s department of labor, OSHA, your insurance agent or insurance carrier. Knowing how to identify and prevent the most common restaurant safety hazards can help you protect your business’ most valuable asset – your employees.