Restaurant safety is an important topic that employers need to be prepared for. Restaurants need to protect their employees against the risk of getting injured on the job.
Since state laws may vary, you may need to have workers comp insurance in place to help protect your employees and your business. But is workers comp insurance really enough?
The top 4 injuries that take place in a restaurant are:
- lacerations and punctures
- sprains & strains
- eye injuries
Although it’s important to have coverage, there are additional precautions you can take to help ensure the safety of your employees.
6 Restaurant Safety Tips
How To Help Avoid Burns
The kitchen is one of the busiest places of a restaurant.
Chefs and line cooks are busy preparing foods. Dishwashers are working to make sure there is enough dinnerware. Waiters and waitresses are in and out of the kitchen.
Accidents can easily happen when “too many cooks are in the kitchen.” Although it may be unavoidable to have less people in and out, you can take precautionary measures to avoid injuries such as burns.
The stove top is the obvious place where employees can be at risk for a burn injury. It’s best to keep this area as least crowded as possible. Whoever needs to be by the stove ranges watching over the food should be the only person back in that area.
To help keep the risk of a burn low, keep pot and pan handles away from the burner so they don’t get too hot, and never keep them sticking out in the open. It’s also a good idea for the staff not to have loose clothing around open stovetops.
Having the appropriate kitchen tools can also help cut down on risks. Make sure there are plenty of pot holders available so the staff can easily carry hot plates/pots/pans from one area to another.
Fryers may be a kitchen necessity, but they also carry high risk of burn injuries. If your kitchen has a fryer that you utilize frequently, you may want to consider some of the following safety tips.
If you have money in the budget, you may want to upgrade old, manual fryers for ones that will automatically lower food into the hot oil. This will limit the amount of interaction the staff has with the hot oil.
However, if that’s not an option for your restaurant, there are still a few other precautions we suggest you take.
If cooks are going to be lowering food into the fryer, make sure they are wearing protective gear. They should be wearing the proper clothing, gloves or mitts at all times, and having splash guards on the fryers should also be a must have.
Before adding frozen foods to the fryer, cooks should shake off any excess ice crystals before dropping them into the hot oil. This will eliminate unnecessary splashing and popping of the oil. Employees shouldn’t stand too close to the fryer, and should handle it with care. Even though there might be a food rush, don’t overfill the fryer baskets and be sure cooks are lowering them gently.
Having grease containing units that dump automatically is also a good idea. However, if your staff is manually disposing of old oil and replacing it themselves, they should follow the proper instructions on how to do so.
Lacerations & Knife Safety
Knives are an essential tool to the kitchen. To prevent injuries, be sure your staff is equipped with the correct knife and knife size for each job.
Dull knives are unsafe and should be replaced after they are too worn.
If the blades of the knives are in good condition but the handles are in poor shape, you can repair or tighten loose handles to make sure they continue to work properly and safely.
There should also be the proper knife storage so knives aren’t left out on the counter or other areas of the kitchen. There should be a designated place such as a counter rack, wall rack or knife block that knifes can properly be stored.
Employees can place non-slip pads or damp clothes under their working space and cutting boards to help prevent an accidental drop or slip of the knife. Cooks should be educated on how to properly handle a knife and exchange cooking tools to each other.
Having cut-resistant gloves to prevent the risk of cutting themselves while working is a good kitchen accessory to have. The staff should be allotted the proper amount of time to prepare for each meal rush to help cut down on the chaos during those times.
Staff should never be forced to open boxes with cooking knives. Providing the proper tools for other responsibilities the kitchen staff has will also cut down on risk of injury.
Prevent Slips, Trips, and Falls
Restaurants often have a busy atmosphere, but it’s important that the staff is properly trained in restaurant safety and able remember their training during rushes to ensure their own safety as well as customers.
Obviously try and keep aisles and walkways clear, however if there is a spill be sure to clean it up immediately and place proper signage in that area to alert staff and customers that the floors may be wet, and to also make them aware that restaurant cleaning supplies may be in use.
It’s a good idea to use non-slip matting, no-skid waxes and coat floors with grit, especially in greasy areas.
If there are areas of the restaurant that need repair such as a ripped carpet or damage floor, it’s best to get those repairs done as soon as possible.
Make sure your staff has the proper footwear for their job at the restaurant. Sturdy shoes with slip-resistant soles and low heels (no leather soles, open toe, platform, or high heels) should be worn during their time working.
Keep shoes laced and tightly tied, avoid porous fabrics such as canvas, which will not protect feet from spills and burns. Employees can look for a tread that channels liquid out from under the shoe to prevent hydroplaning.
Communicate to the staff that if they have a problem with any blind spots that prevent them from seeing properly, or if something isn’t functioning properly to bring it to your attention so you can better improve the working conditions.
Electrical safety may not be a top safety measurement that comes to mind. However, it’s important that all electrical parts of the restaurant are up to code and are safe for both employees and customers to be around.
First, make sure the proper guards are in place before using an electrical machine in the restaurant. If machines have a certain protocol for operating, make sure all of the staff are aware of that process. Even if not all of the staff uses the machine, they should be aware of when it’s in use, how it works, and when it’s best to keep away if necessary.
Make sure all cords, plugs, outlets, housings and blades are in good repair. It’s also a good idea to keep electrical cords away from grease and water. Staff should be aware to keep their hands, face, hair, clothing and jewelry away from any machines that have moving parts.
If a machine in the restaurant, a switch, outlet, anything that isn’t working properly should be brought to management’s attention immediately! Be sure that the proper written warning signs are in place to let everyone know of the warning.
There are many safety measures that can be taken to make sure your staff is safe while at work. In general it’s a good idea to communicate to the staff that they should always be paying attention to what’s going around them.
It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of the busyness, however it’s important to not run or move too quickly during these times. Staff should be especially careful when they are carrying things such as dinnerware, glasses, hot foods or sharp objects.
Be Prepared With This Free Restaurant Safety Checklist
Your employees should always be aware of all the potential injuries and related safety tips.
Having a restaurant safety checklist available for your staff is a great way to help keep everyone informed.