This post is part of a Risk Factor’s series spotlighting risk prevention in the workplace. Each post focuses on common workplace hazards associated with a specified trade or industry, as well as tips and advice to increased injury prevention. For the purpose of this post, Risk Factors offers insight into the food service industry.
Restaurant diners probably don’t consider the complex preparations that go into an intricate meal. Bar and restaurant workers, however, know that the bar, kitchen and main floor can be a dangerous place to navigate while delivering top-quality and timely service. Surrounded by sharp utensils, slippery liquids and heavy tools, food service employees must stay alert at work.
Millions of Americans face several common workplace dangers while working in food service. Three of the most common injuries in kitchen include burns, lifting and falls.
Cooking with Caution
“The Food Service Industry experiences the highest number of burns of any employment sector, about 12,000 each year.” – Burn Foundation
The Burn Foundation suggests taking certain preventative measures, namely proper training and knowledge. All employees must understand the seriousness of the situation, as well as proper precautions that can be taken.
Restaurant employees should stay alert around hot oil, hazardous chemicals, steam, inexperienced workers, and hot plates, said the Food Service Warehouse (FSW). If not handled with caution, all are notorious to lead to bad burns.
Are you a manager or leader within your business? Management is encouraged to take inventory of current standards to ensure that they are abiding by current OSHA guidelines. It’s critical that a teams’ leadership be dedicated to keeping his or her team safe.
Lifting on the Job
Foodmanagement.com listed sprains and strains as one of the four most common restaurant injuries. Waitresses, waiters, cooks and hosts are often subject to carrying large boxes or shipments. Those obligated to carry heavy items may not be in the physical shape to complete the task safely. Heavy lifting was most likely not on the job description, and therefore, most are not prepared to tackle the task accordingly.
The Workplace Safety Toolkit suggests training. Demonstrate safe lifting, using the legs as opposed to the back muscles. Or offer resources that offer proper instruction. Workers should also have access to lifting equipment, like a dolly.
It may be helpful to set a weight limit, at which it isn’t safe for your employees to lift a box alone, without proper equipment. Discover what works best for your kitchen employees.
Many kitchen injuries are a result of a bad fall. This may seem like an obvious vulnerability, but restaurant employees are particularly at risk. The abundance of liquids and ingredients, coupled with a constant floury of activity, can lead to a treacherous outcome if not handled properly.
Management, in particular, should keep an eye on kitchen floors and counters. He or she should also emphasize cleanliness to the staff as well (for more than one obvious reason). Waiters may be in a hurry to deliver a steaming plate of food, but if the employee notices fallen ice cubes or a spilled drink, it is crucial to stop and dry the area first.
Restaurant Hospitality also pinpointed clutter and dimly lit spaces as safety hazards. If items are left strewn across the floor or in along dark hallways, it can causes a deadly fall.
The Remedy: Teamwork
So, how do you combat these common workplace injuries? We suggest holding a monthly team meeting to discuss common dangers. Leaders should continuously gather employee ideas and feedback on workplace safety. Those behind the bar or behind the grill are aware of common issues in the kitchen. If management is made aware of these issues, then he or she can put the proper systems in place to remedy the situation.
Another remedy is routine training. Create a special training workshop, tailored to your particular business, and mandate company-wide participation on an annual basis. This will increase awareness of common dangers, as well as encourage safe habits.
What does your culinary team do to maintain workplace safety? We’d like to hear about the steps you take to ensure the kitchen, bar and main dining room floor remain free of unnecessary hazards.
Image Courtesy of TuscanyEvents