Risks and Responsibility of Owning and/or Operating a Restaurant Series:
When you decide to own or operate a restaurant there are inherent risks and responsibilities that you are undertaking. It is important that you take every measure to minimize these to protect yourself and your employees from possible injury, harm, litigation and financial loss.
As a restaurant owner, it is your responsibility to keep both your guests and employees safe, while they are in your establishment. Restaurants are full of hazards and can be dangerous places, if safety is not top of mind. Injuries from accidents in your restaurant of either a guest or employee create a no-win situation for everyone involved. The injured party experiences pain, suffering and incapacitation while the company suffers from the loss of the injured person's contributions, possible litigation and financial loss.
Here are four basic steps to help prevent accidents in your restaurant:
Cleanliness & Maintenance – Slips, trips and falls are the most common types of accidents in restaurants and these are most often caused by wet, greasy or unclean floors; uneven, improperly secured and/or frayed flooring or carpeting can also be the culprits. Spills and wet floors should be cleaned up as soon as they occur, and trip hazards should be fixed as soon as they become apparent. Additionally, handrails should be properly secured, outside walkways should be well lit and all stairways should be kept clear. Another common cause of injury is poorly maintained or broken equipment: This could be as small as chipped glasses in the dining room or as large as frayed electrical wires on the Robot Coupe. Ensure that all equipment is routinely inspected, serviced or replaced for the safety of your employees and guests.
Safety Tools for the Job – Proper clothing on your employees can be one of the most valuable safety tools in your restaurant. Starting from the bottom up, all employees should wear sturdy leather, anti-slip shoes specifically designed for hospitality workers. Moving upwards, legs, arms and heads should be covered in kitchens to prevent cuts and burns; in the dining rooms, uniforms should fit properly to avoid trips on pant legs and sleeves getting caught on service items or in machinery. Additional types of supplies for safety include, but are not limited to: “caution when wet” signs, knife guards and gloves, proper eye protection, and guards on slicers.
Safety Protocols – Written guidelines for safety procedures must be developed, communicated to all employees and adhered to. These procedures should become part of the routine, with managers and supervisors integrating them into their daily activities: training, pre-service uniform line ups, and regular facilities inspections. Job-specific protocols should be included in position-specific written manuals, and general safety protocols should distributed to all employees in writing. Never assume that your employees know even the most basic safety protocols, and always put them in writing.
Train, Train and Train Again – Safety training should be a major focus when on-boarding new employees, however training should not stop there. Accidents often happen when employees become complacent; incorporate safety procedures into employees’ daily job responsibilities and reinforce these protocols with refresher training. Pre-service staff meetings are a convenient time to discuss safety issues and keep them top-of-mind. It is also helpful to have reminders of safety protocols throughout the work areas: For example, in the delivery receiving area posters reminding proper lifting technique, or signs near large kitchen equipment reminding proper use of safety guards.
The points above are employee training issues at their core. Properly educating your staff in all manner of restaurant safety is crucial in preventing accidental injury of employees and guests and protecting your business from potential litigation.
Don’t know where to begin? Ask yourself, do you have the proper procedures and operational guidelines in place to help you be as profitable as possible? 4Q Consulting can develop customized operational guidelines and training programs to meet your needs. Email us today for a free business consultation at www.4qconsult.com.
All original content copyright Noelle E. Ifshin, 2012-2013.