Accidents are a part of every job, and restaurants are no exception. While everything is done to keep the restaurant free of hazards, safety needs to be at the top of every staffer’s mind to ensure the restaurant stays accident free.
Know the Hazards
Most accidents are caused by an unsafe act, an unsafe condition or a combination of the two. For example, a server could fall on a slippery kitchen floor—an accident caused by the unsafe act of not placing a “wet floor” sign by the wet surface. Or, a patron could trip over a bunched-up rug, which would be the result of an unsafe condition. In either instance, the accident could have been prevented by following proper safety precautions.
Because the job and the working environment have a potential for hazardous situations, it’s important to understand what causes accidents so that employees can avoid them whenever possible. While it is impossible to list all of the hazards employees may encounter while working in a restaurant, common ones may include:
- Injuries due to food or spills that are not cleaned up
- Burns from steam or cooking equipment
- Injuries due to misuse of equipment
- Damaged or broken equipment, such as dishwashing equipment or deep fryers
- Any number of possible accidents caused by patron behaviour, such as spilling ice from a pop machine, or not pushing a chair in
Safety Takes Practice
The first step to staying safe is for employees to stay alert during their shift and not let routine or familiarity lure them into carelessness. Employees should always observe safety precautions before and during a task, even if those precautions make the task more inconvenient or take longer to complete. Cutting corners may not seem like a big deal, but doing so is a primary cause of accidents. For example, trying to lift a bus pan that is too heavy is a recipe for an accident.
Next, employees need to know their job. The more they know about their job, the safer they’ll be. They should know the proper procedures and safety precautions when working with kitchen appliances, such as slicers and mixers, and if questions arise, employees should talk to their shift manager.
Also, they should know which tasks, areas and situations are more prone to hazardous conditions, and always be on the lookout for anything unsafe. If employees see a staffer behaving unsafely or using equipment improperly, they should inform them how to safely correct the behaviour. Accident prevention means watching for unsafe situations and attempting to correct them.
And finally, employees should make a personal contribution. A good way to start this is to follow all safety rules, even if they think they are unnecessary or that they slow them down. Certain rules are made for employees’ protection, so they should follow them. Also, just because an unsafe act is not specifically prohibited, it doesn’t mean employees should do it. They need to use their common sense when evaluating if something is safe or not—there may be a very easy way to make it safer if they stop to think it through.
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Looking for restaurant safety policies and procedures that support a safety-conscious work environment? Download our free Restaurant Employee Safety Manual!