RESTAURANT SAFETY: ACTION ITEMS
Between the lunch rush and late night happy hour, a lot happens in a bustling restaurant. There is constant foot traffic, food being prepped and served, loads of noise and a frenetic work pace. In other words, there’s plenty of opportunity for accidents. The best way to reduce these situations is to identify risks and find ways to minimize them. Talking as a team is a great first step. Think about setting up weekly safety meetings with staff to bring up any potential or known hazards and talk about ways to make the workplace safer. Here are some ways to keep employees feeling safe and operating productively.
Front of the House
When it comes to attire, pick tops and bottoms that combine comfort and function. Aprons and pants with multiple pockets hold all the necessary tools, keeping them close by. This way, workers don’t have to make multiple trips across the restaurant.
Hosts, cashiers, bartenders and servers cover a lot of area on the restaurant floor. Therefore, footwear is important. Choose comfortable and supportive slip-resistant shoes without a heel.
At the host stand, keep menus and utensils at the proper height so staff can easily grab them without repeatedly kneeling down. A good rule of thumb is somewhere between the hips and chest.
Front-of-the-house staff is typically crossing back and forth in the front area of the restaurant. To avoid slips and trips in these high traffic areas, use floor mats with a rubber backing that lays flat. Bonus, this mat can showcase your logo and prevent soils from messing up floors.
Back of the House
Like the front of the house, proper attire is just as important for the back of the house crew. Uniforms that are designed specifically for kitchen use can keep workers safe and looking professional. Aprons and chef coats can guard against hot food and liquid spills. Pants and shirts made with the right fabric can help keep staff cool, which makes it less likely for fatigue and discomfort to set in.
Floor mats are also key in the kitchen. Line cooks and dishwashers who are standing in the same place for a long time need a supportive surface. Did you know that the average worker loses 25% of their productivity when standing on hard surface flooring? Anti-fatigue mats take the stress off the back, legs, feet and muscles. For areas that see a lot of water, consider a kitchen drainage mat. These mats are non-slip, and they allow liquids and dirt to pass through, which reduces slips.
Kitchen environments come with a variety of large equipment that has the potential for being dangerous. These tools should never be near wet areas and should be frequently inspected. Make sure to stress the importance of operating these machines correctly; don’t take short cuts. Mixers, grinders and slicers should always have the appropriate guards to reduce accidental cuts.
And speaking of cuts, make sure cutting boards are used and knives are always put away after use. To avoid soreness and fatigue, use the right knife for each task and properly sharpen them so that excess force isn’t necessary.
The back of the house is also susceptible to kitchen fires and burns. Beware of hot surfaces and use splashguards when working with grease. Kitchen grill pads are crucial when handling hot pans and plates. All employees should also know how to operate a fire extinguisher.
Sauté pans, ladles, plates and mixing bowls – there are a lot of tools of the trade. As much as possible, the kitchen layout should be conducive to easy reaching. Keep gadgets and cooking essentials at arm’s length to avoid repeated bending and twisting.
Tips for All
With frequent food and supply deliveries, make sure everyone uses proper lifting techniques. Moving heavy boxes can lead to strains, sprains and pulled muscles. Plan ahead so you have help and a clear, clean path.
There are also better ways of cleaning that can keep employees safe. Use products that clean messes with less elbow grease, like microfibre towels and mops, to avoid fatigue. Choose cleaning supplies that reduce the risk of spreading food-borne illnesses. Mops and brooms with long handles mean less leaning, bending and stooping.
The right gloves can help avoid cross contamination when handling food. Be sure to use gloves that consist of FDA-approved materials. Dropping glasses and plates is bound to happen in the kitchen and bar. Take the time to wear gloves when picking up broken glass and ceramics for one less injury.
Make Safety a Priority
Putting kitchen safety practices into place starts at the top. Thorough occupational health and safety training for new employees is a must. And to enforce the importance of kitchen safety, offer seminars throughout the year. Accidents will happen; be prepared with a stocked first aid kit that meets local and federal guidelines. Awareness, training and precautionary measures keep your business running efficiently and safely.
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