We’ve all seen it or heard it happen at one time or another.  You and your companions are enjoying a meal at your favorite local restaurant and all of a sudden – CRASH!  Dishes and glasses are heard breaking after having fallen from the hands of a very embarrassed waitperson.   You might have even caught a glimpse of the catastrophe just before it happened, knowing there was an inevitable outcome unfolding.  Did you realize that this could be the result of a common injury to restaurant employees?  There are several potential injuries a restaurant employee might sustain that you may not have considered while being a “front of house” witness to the business activities.

There are many different dining options available today, from pizza delivery to family-style buffet, to sports pubs, fine dining, and food trucks.  Although each has its own flair, they all share the commonality of similar employee injury potential.  Cuts and burns are the obvious ones that come to mind when thinking about restaurants.  We know that knives are used in kitchens and that you don’t get hot food without some type of heat source.  There are simple ways for restaurants to cut down on these types of injuries on the job.  Specially made mesh cut-proof gloves should be used by all kitchen staff with knife duties.  These help to minimize the potential for a quick trip to the urgent care in need of a few stitches.  Gloves are also recommended when handling hot food items to minimize burns.

Think about what you see in the dining area of a restaurant.  Have you ever noticed the speed at which wait staff move about the restaurant?  Do you notice that there is rarely a clear path from Point A to Point B for them to travel?  Slips and falls are additional injuries commonly seen in the restaurant industry.  The addition of slip proof mats in the kitchen, where spills are most common, is highly recommended.  Overall good housekeeping is recommended as well to keep walkways clear and free from obstacles.  Slips and falls can be some of the most costly injuries a business can face.

Remember that falling tray of dishes?   It may be as a result of something you didn’t see when it occurred.  Picture that weighty load of dishes and glasses.  Most often that’s an unbalanced load that is being lifted and carried.  A simple shift of weight sets the stage for a strain or sprain from the employee trying to overcorrect to avoid the catastrophe.

Think about the employee handling the dish duties in the kitchen lifting, stacking and moving the glass racks and you have another potential sprain or strain waiting to happen.  Some simple safety practices can educate employees on how to properly protect themselves from potential injury.  Training on how to stack a tray, and a limit to how many articles may be carried, is a simple and effective way to protect the employees.  Training on how to properly load, lift and carry heavier items can be beneficial as well.

A significant injury can have a devastating effect on the small, local restaurant owner.  If the head chef is injured and unable to return, the time to replace him or her may mean the difference of the restaurant being able to stay open or going out of business.  An injury to a waitperson that is unable to return may impact customer service and business may drop off until a replacement is hired and suitably trained.  Taking the proper precautions can help keep your favorite local restaurant thriving for years to come!

If you’d like additional information about property safety practices and loss control measures you may contact First Benefits Insurance Mutual for more information.  For information on how to obtain a quote for workers’ compensation insurance with First Benefits Insurance Mutual you may contact your chamber of commerce directly or you may contact Peg Pirrotta, Director of Agency Services for First Benefits Insurance Mutual, to locate an agent near you.

Source: Written by Richard Suddarth, Vice President of Marketing and Administration, First Benefits Insurance Mutual, Inc. FBIM is a member service offered by your Chamber. For more information, contact Richard Suddarth at rsuddarth@firstbenefits.org or Peg Pirrotta at ppirrotta@firstbenefits.org.