Reducing the Risk of Restaurant Workers’ Injuries and Lost Productivity in the Workplace

Topics: Loss Control

The food service industry offers a variety of different jobs to individuals of all ages and skillsets. And, whether the staff includes the chef and hostess at a four-star restaurant or teens temporarily employed at the local quick service restaurant for the summer, all employees face some potential risks for common injuries.

What are the Most Common Injuries for Restaurant Workers?

Due to the nature of the business, some of the most common restaurant workers’ injuries include:
  • Cuts, punctures and scrapes
  • Burns from hot surfaces or oil
  • Muscle strains and sprains from either slips and falls, repetitive motions, standing in the same place for long periods of time or lifting heavy objects
In fact, slips and strains represent the highest restaurant injury risks and result in the most missed days of work for employees. Those who injured multiple body parts in a fall or who strained their wrists or hands while carrying something were among those likely to miss the most work; injuries to wrists and hands resulted in the most time missed, with employees averaging 265 days out of the workplace.

How to Reduce Restaurant Worker Injuries and Missed Time

restaurant slips and falls



There’s no doubt that slips and strains are common occurrences in the food industry. Greasy or wet floors, low lighting, tripping hazards like loose mats, rugs and other clutter, or improper lifting and carrying techniques can all lead to an increase in these types of restaurant worker injuries; however, it doesn’t have to be this way. While it might not be possible to eliminate restaurant employee accidents altogether, there are a few things than can be done to consider to help ensure a safer workplace, including:

Keep floors clean and dry

One of the easiest ways to reduce restaurant injury risks is to maintain the cleanliness of the floors throughout the establishment. There should be a set schedule for management to do walk-throughs to check whether spills have been properly attended to and that housekeeping tasks are being adequately completed. Be especially careful to keep the areas around refrigerators and freezers free of water and ice buildup. In addition to daily cleaning, floors should be periodically deep cleaned to ensure they are sufficiently degreased, especially in high traffic areas. Installing anti-slip flooring in the kitchen/food prep areas can also help reduce the risk of slips and falls.

Utilize non-skid rubber mats

Ensuring floors are clean and dry is one of the best strategies for reducing a slip or fall, but take it a step farther by installing non-slip, rubber mats or rugs in areas more prone to accidents, such as around the sinks, preparation and beverage stations, and doorways. Keep in mind these types of mats can see a lot of wear and tear, and the corners may eventually become rolled and increase the risk of an accident. Replace these mats as often as needed to help employees avoid injuries from tripping over those rolled corners.

Wear proper shoes

Employees should wear slip-resistant footwear during their shifts, as proper footwear can be critical in preventing slips and falls. Sneakers and other athletic-types of shoes may have a rubber sole, but this does not mean they are non-slip. Look for shoes designed specifically for workers in the restaurant industry.

Remove clutter from high traffic areas

Employees should have a clear path at all times, as it’s common for restaurant workers to move at a quick pace, often while carrying trays of foods and drinks that could obstruct their line of sight. Keep items like cords, hoses, boxes, buckets, garbage cans, tray stands, extra chairs and other possible obstacles tucked neatly away when not in use, and always make sure that any new stock or inventory gets stored immediately.

Assign repetitive tasks throughout the day among workers

When employees have to do the same task over and over for extended periods of time, these monotonous movements can strain muscle groups, leading to fatigue and soreness. Spread out repetitive tasks, such as food preparation that involves a lot of chopping, to various workers throughout the day. Employees should be allowed to take frequent breaks from these types of activities, and encourage them to stretch their muscles regularly to get some relief. Adding ergonomic workstations can also help them avoid some discomfort.

Teach proper lifting and carrying methods

Lifting heavy items like boxes or pots full of water can also lead to muscle strains in the shoulders, back, neck and legs. Employees should be taught methods for properly lifting and carrying awkward, heavy items to reduce their risk of injury. For example, lifting objects by bending at the knees (not the back), and properly carrying the item by keeping the heaviest part closest to the body. Any object that weighs over 50 pounds should require two people to lift and carry it. To minimize handling of extremely heavy items, use material handling devices like handtrucks and dollies.

Stay protected from burns

While strains from slips and falls are the leading risk of injury in the restaurant industry, burns are close behind. Employees should always wear proper attire, keeping arms covered by using spatter shields or gauntlets when frying and oven mitts when handling hot pots and pans – never use a hand towel for these tasks. Change out fryer oil frequently and avoid carrying large stockpots of hot or greasy food from one location to another.

Loss Control and Restaurant Insurance from AmTrust Financial

By understanding some of the potential risks in the restaurant industry, both employers and employees can help ensure a safer workplace and reduce injuries. Controlling costs through an effective risk management solution is essential in today’s competitive market, and AmTrust’s Loss Control Department can identify specific hazards and offer solutions that fit your operation. We are dedicated to providing the right recommendations and resources necessary to create the most effective loss prevention program for your specific needs. Additionally, we offer coverage to a variety of restaurant types, from fine dining establishments to mobile food vendors. Please contact us today to learn more.

This material is for informational purposes only and is not legal or business advice. Neither AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries or affiliates represents or warrants that the information contained herein is appropriate or suitable for any specific business or legal purpose. Readers seeking resolution of specific questions should consult their business and/or legal advisors.
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