Top Restaurant Safety Exposures – and How to Manage Them

May 31, 2019

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a typical restaurant reports three workplace injuries a year for every 100 employees. Outside of the harm they cause injured employees, accidents can affect customer service, increase hiring and training costs and inflate experience modifications.

So how can restaurant owners and managers like you protect employees and mitigate the costs of work-related injuries? By investing in a strong safety culture and building a workplace safety program. It could mean saving $4 to $6 dollars for every safety dollar invested, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA).

Fostering a culture of safety gives restaurant owners and managers more control in reducing the risk of workplace injuries and related costs while encouraging better productivity.

Typical restaurant injury exposures and controls:


Lifting/Overexertion Strains

Worker Exposure Controls

Bus persons




Overloaded trays/bus tubs

Multiple plates



Soda syrup boxes

Bulk produce/meat

C02 cylinders

Fryer oil


Enforce use of carts and hand trucks.

Limit the number of items carried at one time.

Keep heavier stock stored at waist height.

Ensure ladders are available to reach top tier stock.

Encourage two-person lifts for heavy items.

Provide instruction on safe lifting techniques.

Regularly identify and correct unsafe habits.



Worker Exposure Controls

Bus persons



Wet floors

Grease accumulations

Frayed carpet

Deteriorated slip-resistant mats

Poor illumination

Broken ladder

Climbing racks

Ice cubes

Inclement weather



Enforce use of closed-toe/slip-resistant footwear.

Use wet floor signs.

Place slip-resistant mats in vulnerable areas.

Replace worn or frayed mats.

Regularly replace or stretch worn carpeting.

Keep corridors and stairs free from obstruction.

Provide step stools in a dry storage area – and inspect their condition regularly.

Ensure mop and water are clean.



Worker Exposure Controls


Cooking equipment

Fryer oil


Hot plates/foods


Keep cooking equipment clean and free from grease accumulations.

Let oil cool before handling.

Ensure hot pads and oven mitts are available and used.

Avoid reaching across hot surfaces.

Apply signage in areas where hot surfaces are not obvious.



Worker Exposure Controls

Prep cooks


Electric slicer

Meat grinder

Knife storage

Repetitive cutting

Dull knives

Broken glass

Wine glass cleaning

Box cutters


Only trained employees should operate slicer, grinder, mixer and mandolin.

Keep guards in place.

Ensure knives are regularly sharpened and stored on a magnet.

Don’t condense or reach into garbage using unprotected hands.

Do not leave knives soaking in water with other utensils and dishes.

Use cutting gloves when completing repetitive cutting or when using mandolin.

Box cutter blades must have a protective cover.

Don’t place broken glass or needles in the trash.

Use the tools below to support your safety efforts — and contact your CompWest Loss Control Consultant for further assistance.

CompWest Toolbox resources:

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