Many high school and college students get jobs as servers because they have flexible, often evening schedules and the take home cash is usually more than straight hourly work. Other people like the flow and human interaction that serving offers and stay in this career. But these workers are at risk for injury.
Here are the top 5 risks restaurant workers face.
- Slips and falls. More than 3 million foodservice workers are injured every year by slippery walkways and stairs according to Marsh, an insurance brokerage and risk management company. Because workers must carry large trays that block their field of vision, and must hurry to get food out while it’s hot they are at a higher risk for this than other industries.
- Burns and cuts. Most cooks have experienced a burn and a cut or two, especially if they work with a deep fryer. Servers are at increased risk as well due to having to prepare and transport hot liquids. Servers and dishwashers can suffer from steam burns as well as cuts from misplaced and falling knives.
- Lack of training. Servers and other restaurant workers need to be trained on how to use any equipment. It is the restaurant’s responsibility to train employees. Cooks who have not been trained on fire code and safety are at greater risk for burns. The U.S. Fire Administration estimates that 5,900 restaurant building fires occur annually so this is a real hazard. Restaurants that do not have working and up to code fire extinguishers (as well as sprinkler systems and hood/ exhaust systems) put their employees and patrons at great risk.
- Dangerous chemicals. While it is in everyone’s best interest to have a sanitary food preparation and eating environment it should not be at the peril of the worker who must mix toxic chemicals. Restaurants that require servers and other employees to mix potentially hazardous chemicals put these workers at undue risk.
- Exhaustion. Restaurants that require workers to “clopen” or close and then open put these workers at risk for exhaustion. If a restaurant closes at midnight and opens at 6 AM there is not enough time for a worker to get home and get adequate sleep before returning to work, as reported in an article by the New York Times. Sleep deprived and drowsy workers are also at greater risk for mistakes and injury.
Serving and food industry jobs offer many benefits. However the company should not be putting its employees’ health and well being at risk. If you feel you are being put at risk bring up the issue to management or the owner. If you are injured while working speak with a personal injury attorney to ensure your rights are protected and that the restaurant is held accountable.