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Risks to Restaurant Industry Employees

Teen Restaurant Workers Need to Be Cautious

Many teenagers look forward to the time that they can begin their first part time job. Work offers a sense of independence and responsibility that many teens and their parents believe is important to their development and to their future. Of course, the extra money for that coveted concert ticket or designer shirt is nice too.

However, not all jobs are safe for teenagers and some carry specific risks of which teenagers should be aware. Restaurant work, particularly fast food restaurants, can be dangerous for teens. NIOSH reports that some of the dangers that teens face in restaurant work includes electric shredders, other sharp objects, slippery floors and, hot cooking equipment.

In fact the law prevents workers who under age 18 from using a meat slicer or bakery machine. Children under 16 are not allowed to cook on the job. Work hours are also limited for children under age 16 to prevent them from becoming too tired or from interfering with their education.

Restaurant work is hard and can be dangerous. Teen workers can minimize their risks in this industry by insisting on appropriate training and by making sure that they do not complete tasks that are prohibited by law.

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Restaurant Workers May be Burned

Burn injuries are a common cause of occupational injury in the United States and many of the burn injuries happen to restaurant workers. There are a number of ways that burns can occur.

Often, burns occur because of accidents in a restaurant kitchen. Sometimes accidents occur because of overcrowding in the kitchen. There may be too many pots on the stovetop or too many people trying to do too many things too quickly in an effort to feed patrons as quickly as possible.

Inappropriate clothing and footwear can also lead to burns. Loose clothing can create a problem in the kitchen because it can quickly catch on fire. Grease and oil can quickly create hot and hard to fight fires if they are left unattended and not appropriately monitored. Burns can also occur simply from carrying hot foods. A waitress can trip and fall carrying a hot bowl of soup and experience scalding and pain. Wet floors may be common as items are spilled and cleaned. Therefore, it is important for every restaurant employee to wear appropriate clothing and footwear while on the job.

Burn injuries can be serious and result in painful medical complications and significant amounts of time lost from work. Restaurant employers and employees should, therefore, understand the risk and take steps to minimize the risk in their establishments.

Proper Protocols Can Protect Restaurant Workers from Painful Cuts

Chefs, sous chefs and other restaurant employees often use very sharp knives and slicers in their work. Sometimes, they experience serious accidents with those objects that result in injuries. The injuries can be serious and can result in significant amounts of missed work, long rehabilitation periods and even permanent disabilities.

Some of the common reasons for injuries are because staff is not trained on the proper use of knives and slicing machines. They often do not use cut proof gloves while they work and they cut with the knife positioned toward their body, rather than away from it.

Proper guidance from supervisors and employers can ensure that knives are used only for their intended purposes, that they are kept in good condition and that workers follow all of the recommended safety protocols. Kitchen supervisors should also ensure that knives are properly stored and handled in the kitchen. Similarly, food servers should be instructed on how to transport knives safely to tables and on how to clear tables so as to avoid injury to themselves and customers.

Chefs and wait staff work with their hands. A cut can be an injury that keeps them out of work for long amounts of time and causes them considerable amounts of pain. Therefore, it is important to minimize the risks that sharp knives and machines can create.

Long Hours Can Increase the Risk of Injury

Restaurant workers work long hours. Some restaurants are open for three meals a day often for more than 14 hours, six or seven days per week. Other restaurants may only be open for lunch and dinner but may keep their bars open well into the late night hours. Often, this requires chefs, waiters, managers and other restaurant workers to put in extended shifts many days in a row.

Studies have shown that workers who regularly put in a lot of overtime (usually defined as more than 40 hours per week) have poorer health and have higher rates of accidents and illnesses that occur on the job. There is a definite increase in injury and illness rates among workers who work 12 hours shifts as compared to workers who worked 8 hours shifts.

Restaurant workers who are tired are more likely to make mistakes that could result in injury. They could hurt themselves with the sharp tools of their trade. They could slip and fall in the kitchen or out on the restaurant floor. Their fatigue could result in accidents that burn them from hot equipment or scalding food.

Long hours may be part of the restaurant industry. However, employees should be cautious about the hours they work and the increased risk of accident and injury.

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