Restaurant, food service, and food manufacturing workers have a higher risk of slip and fall accidents than workers in most other occupations. In fact, according to Liberty Mutual’s Workplace Safety Index, 45% of workers’ compensation claims in restaurants are due to falls. Many factors contribute to the high risk, including spills, improper footwear, tripping over flooring material, dim lighting, and walkway obstructions. Although adequate housekeeping can significantly reduce slip and fall accidents, the fast-paced, chaotic nature of many restaurant kitchens can make it difficult to keep floors clean, dry, and clear at all times. If you work in the restaurant or food service industry, the tips below can help keep you on your feet. Contact a Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today.
Floor Mats: In addition to clean, dry floors, well-maintained mats are an essential component of any commercial kitchen. As they are frequently subjected to spills, high traffic, and cleaning products, food service mats need to be replaced often. It’s also important to get the right mat for the job. The mats used in industrial plants are designed to provide foot comfort and traction, and not much more. Food service mats, however, should provide additional slip and fall protection against substances such as ice, grease, and oil. Each mat should also be well suited to its area of use. For example, mats in high traffic areas should be low profile or have a ramp to prevent tripping over edges. Thick mats with holes, on the other hand, are good for allowing spills to drain onto the floor underneath.
Footwear: Proper footwear is essential for food service and restaurant workers. Slip and fall accidents make up nearly half of all workers’ compensation claims in the food service industry. Considering that the food service environment typically consists of slippery floors, hot surfaces, boiling liquids, and knives, shoes with excellent traction and support are vital to the safety of all employees. The two most important components of a safe shoe are the quality of the materials and the design of the sole. Soft, durable materials are best, and tread patterns should not run in the direction of travel as this may accentuate forward motion.
High Cost of Slip and Fall Injuries: According to the National Safety Council, the average slip and fall injury costs up to $28,000. These calculations include medical expenses, workers’ compensation benefits, paperwork, lost wages, and an increase in insurance premiums. Tens of thousands of restaurant workers are treated in hospital emergency rooms for slip and fall injuries every year. The majority of the accidents are blamed on wet or greasy floors.
OSHA’s Walking-Working Surfaces Standard: As one of OSHA’s most cited standards in the Eating Places Industry Group, the walking-working surfaces standard includes the following requirement: “The floor of every workroom shall be maintained in a clean and, so far as possible, a dry condition. Where wet processes are used, drainage shall be maintained, and false floors, platforms, mats, or other dry standing places should be provided where practicable.”
Altman & Altman, LLP – Serving Massachusetts’ Workforce for Nearly 50 Years
If you have been injured in any type of work-related accident, we can help. Slip and fall injuries can be physically and financially debilitating. Workers’ compensation benefits are available for most work-related injuries, but the process of obtaining benefits can be complicated and lengthy. Our skilled workers’ compensation team will work diligently to make sure that the process is as smooth and efficient as possible. It is our goal to get you the benefits you deserve. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free consultation about your case.