August 22, 2018

How to keep your restaurant workers safe

To say that restaurants are a fast-paced work environment would be an understatement. Keeping plates moving and customers happy means foodservice workers have to hustle, with little time to consider the countless hazards involved in getting the job done. That’s not exactly conducive to optimal safety conditions, of course. Keeping up with the dinner rush and concerns for the bottom line can quickly trump personal safety concerns.

“For most independent restaurant owners, priority #1 will always be keeping the doors open. To accomplish that, they may wear a lot of hats, from cook to accountant to marketer,” said Pinnacol Safety Consultant Tom Levy. “Employee safety can easily get pushed to the back burner. But a serious injury can be a big disruption.”

A smorgasbord of hazards

Restaurant workers face risk everywhere they turn. Liquids spilt on floors can cause slips and falls. Slicing and dicing can find not only meat and veggies but errant fingers. And stovetops and fryers make burns a constant danger.  

Some hazards are less common but just as serious. Food service workers use chemicals to clean dishes, tables and floors, and the wrong kind of exposure can cause skin issues and illness. Lifting heavy containers can result in strains. And there is always potential for violence, especially in establishments that serve alcohol. With the massive growth of food delivery, more restaurant workers are hopping in the car or on the bike, introducing a whole new set of risks.

Making an effort to mitigate these hazards is the right thing to do for employees, but it can also affect customers. Workplace injuries can create shorthanded kitchen and wait staffs, hurting employee morale and customer service.

Safety key to retention

Despite the challenges, restaurant industry workers are increasingly demanding a safe work environment. A historically tight labor market in Colorado means employees can ditch an unsafe workplace in the morning and find a new position before happy hour. Keeping employees safe is essential to employee retention and business profitability.

Fortunately, restaurants don’t need the resources of a national chain to provide a safe environment for their employees. Pinnacol’s safety team has designed a comprehensive training tool for restaurant owners. The modules can be used to train new hires as well as refresh the knowledge of more experienced employees. Designed for positions from dishwashing to hosting, the training will ensure employees are prepared to face the specific hazards they’re likely to face.

“Food service workers want to return home in the same condition that they arrived, just like everyone else,” says Levy. “Making sure they have the right training is one of the best ways to help them feel safe and happy.”

Have more questions about keeping your restaurant’s employees safe? Contact a member of the Pinnacol team today.