The Importance of Safety in the Food & Beverage Industry

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Restaurants and bars are susceptible to a variety of workers’ compensation claims based on their fast-paced nature. As attorneys, identifying areas of concern when walking into a restaurant or bar becomes second nature. We consider: how do you address an accident before it becomes one? How do you prevent injuries when working in an environment and an industry that is so susceptible to them?

The clear and concise answer is to focus on training and awareness. It is imperative that safety remains the top priority for anyone in the Food & Beverage industry. If you cannot safely perform a job task, then that task should not be performed. If you see a safety issue, no matter what, you should stop to address it before someone gets hurt. Easier said than done, right? Wrong. Safety programs can help prevent many injuries that occur in the workplace.

One should constantly work to recognize the areas of concern and focus on ways to prevent injuries from reoccurring. If multiple slip-and-fall incidents occur, try to determine the source of the substances causing the slips. If the substance is from employees spilling drinks or dropping ice on the floor, focus on daily attention and reinforcement to employees regarding the issue. Institute a slip resistant shoe policy, if needed. Providing non-slip shoes to employees is far more cost effective than multiple workers’ compensation claims. Furthermore, it keeps your workforce at full capacity.

Is there grease on the floor? Try and focus on minimizing disbursement of the grease at the source. Place slip resistant mats in the area if needed. If the issue is something deeper, say a plumbing or drainage issue, work to get it fixed immediately. It will save you a lot more money in the long term.

If employees are suffering from multiple cuts or lacerations, consider instituting a cut glove policy, or require employees to take a course on knife handling. If your problem is burns, consider requiring employees to wear protective sleeves, or prevent them from working hot stations if protective sleeves are not an option. Again, provide feedback and reinforcement to employees regarding the issues at hand. Utilize pre-shift and post-shift meetings to keep safety on the forefront of your employee’s minds. If the employee is not thinking safety first, they will more than likely focus on how quickly and easily they can do something.

Safety does not have to be complicated; it just has to be a focus to employers. In focusing on safety, you can drastically help reduce claims and decrease costs.

The author, Andrew Carlson, has over a decade of experience in the restaurant/hospitality industry prior to becoming an attorney.

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