Working in the food services industry, such as restaurants, cafes and bars, can result in a variety of injuries. There are numerous hazards that workers face, and both employers and employees can do their part to reduce these hazards.
Many injuries are preventable, and companies should provide the training necessary to cover prevention practices.
Common hazards and injuries
According to the UC Berkeley Labor Occupational Health Program, common hazards found in restaurants include slippery floors, knives, hot stoves and ovens, chemicals, stress, heat, heavy lifting and repetitive movements.
The most common injuries reported by restaurant workers are muscle strains and sprains. Other common injuries are burns, cuts and bruises. Injuries can result in missed days of work and reduced productivity. They also result in higher workers’ compensation costs to the companies.
Although hazards exist in restaurants, there are things that can reduce the risk of accidents and improve the safety of all workers. Although removing a hazard makes the most sense, this can take time, and sometimes it is not feasible for the operation of the restaurant.
Wearing the right protective gear is one way to reduce injuries. For kitchen staff, this may include gloves, heat-resistant aprons and sleevelets. Everyone should wear slip-resistant shoes to prevent slips and falls. Employers should also provide the proper training for equipment use, spill clean-up methods and chemical use.
The Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation discusses ergonomic changes companies can make to reduce injuries of workers. Some of these include:
- Carrying heavier items close to the body
- Carrying a tray with a straight wrist
- Using ergonomically designed kitchen utensils
- Using stepstools to reach high shelves
- Using anti-fatigue matting
- Alternating between sitting and standing
Other practices that can reduce injuries include sharpening knives regularly, using automated or powered equipment and organizing the workflow.