Restaurant jobs aren’t generally thought of us “high-risk” occupations — but they probably should be. According to a 2015 report by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, a whopping 97% of workplace injuries occur in coffee shops, bars and restaurants.
What’s behind all these injuries? There are essentially four main causes:
- Slips, trips and falls: Restaurant floors are almost universally slippery — especially if grease or drinks get spilled on the floor. Anti-skid rubber mats may reduce the risk of injury when they’re used by sinks, stoves, doorways and dishwashers. Wearing non-skid shoes with a good tread can also help lower the chances of a fall.
- Cuts and lacerations: There are a lot of sharp objects in kitchens and bars, from cutting knives to can openers. A single moment of distraction can lead to a serious wound or accidental amputation. Probably the best way to reduce your chances of injury is to keep your eyes on your work at all times.
- Burns: When you’re working with a hot stove, brewing coffee, boiling water or baking, it’s easy to end up with a burn on your hands or face. Always wear appropriate safety gear, including oven mitts and aprons — and make sure that you’re trained and comfortable handling the deep fryer and other machines you need to use.
- Hazardous materials: Whether you realize it or not, common chemicals like bleach, ammonia and other cleaning supplies can be considered hazardous materials. Skin injuries and eye injuries can occur from contact with the chemicals and lung injuries can come from breathing in the fumes. Always work with chemicals in a well-ventilated place and use gloves and a face mask, when appropriate.
A workplace injury strikes each restaurant roughly four times a year, on average — and can cost the injured worker plenty. If you’ve been injured and you’re having trouble obtaining the benefits you deserve, it may be time to speak to an attorney.