According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, of the millions of workers injured each year in the U.S., over 90 percent are employed in service industries including restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. Restaurant and kitchen workers face many hazards each day and the risk of minor and severe injuries is great – some work accidents may even be fatal.
Some of the injuries that occur in restaurants and kitchens include:
Slip and falls or trip and falls are the most common cause of injuries to workers in all industries. In restaurants and kitchens, the risk is particularly great due to the presence of water and cooking oil. In a well-run establishment that prioritizes the safety of workers, spills are cleaned up immediately and appropriate signage is displayed to mark the area. Workers should wear closed-toe shoes that are skid resistant.
Burns can be caused by deep-frying oil, contact with hot pans or appliances, kitchen fires, steam from pots, or contact with faulty electrical equipment. Burns can be prevented by making sure potholders are readily available and by ensuring staff members wear long sleeves and aprons. Electrical outlets should never be overloaded, and stoves must never be left unattended.
Slicing machines without guards are a source of cuts and lacerations as are kitchen knives and broken glassware. Workers must be properly trained on any slicing and cutting machinery.
Repetitive tasks such as chopping, slicing, stirring, and other common kitchen jobs can lead to fatigue, soreness, and injury. Using dull knives and equipment forces workers to exert more force through the fingers, wrists, hands, and arms to accomplish the same task. Repetitive motion injuries can lead to loss of normal function of the affected area and result in an inability to complete daily tasks.
Commercial cooking supplies come in large quantities putting workers at risk for sprains and strains when moving and lifting heavy loads. Properly storing heavy items at waist height can help prevent back injuries.
Restaurant and kitchen workers are exposed to commercial strength chemical cleaners that may irritate the eyes, nose, and mouth. They should be provided with face masks, aprons, and gloves. All hazardous materials should be clearly labeled and properly stored.
The importance of training cannot be underestimated in the prevention of accidents and the handling of emergencies. Employers should run fire drills regularly and staff should know how to handle first aid procedures for cuts and burns.
Many commercial kitchen appliances can be dangerous, and workers need to be trained in their use, care, and maintenance. They should also be made aware of good housekeeping practices that can help eliminate the risk of slip and falls and kitchen fires. Emergency numbers of hospitals and helplines should be clearly posted.
For injuries sustained on the job, restaurant and kitchen workers may be eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits. A successful claim will cover medical treatment for an injury as well as wage loss benefits, partial or total disability benefits, and other forms of relief.
If you or someone you love has been injured on the job, contact a Philadelphia work accident lawyer of Gross & Kenny, LLP. Call 267-589-0090 or complete our online form to schedule an initial consultation. Our offices are located in Philadelphia, allowing us to serve Pennsylvania and New Jersey.