There are many dangers in working in a restaurant. Accidents frequently occur in the kitchen and dining areas. Although there are many ways such accidents can happen, many of the circumstances causing these mishaps can be prevented.
--- Prevention of Restaurant Accidents ---
Caution is very important whenever an environment presents inherent dangers for injury to employees and customers. It is critical that management ensures employees follow strict guidelines developed for their safety and to prevent accidents. When restaurants are diligent in taking precautions and educating staff about hazards, it is easier for them to avoid expensive litigation or liabilities. Employees must follow safety measures at all times. They should be aware and observant to prevent accidents and injury to themselves, other employees and customers.
--- Typical Restaurant Hazards ---
Liquid, food and grease spills are common hazards of restaurants that cause tripping and falling by customers and employees. Whenever a spill occurs in a restaurant, it is very important that a caution sign is immediately placed over the spill to prevent anyone from obtaining an injury. Flooring must be kept clean, uncluttered and free of objects that can cause workers or customers to trip. Carpets and electrical cords can often become tripping hazards.
One danger in restaurants is dim lighting. Insufficient illumination of floors can cause accidents to occur. Customers are not as familiar with the facility as employees, but both groups of people are at risk for running into an object, tripping or falling when they cannot see where they are going. Uneven steps are dangerous and lighting is important to ensure people can see where each step is located.
Building codes exist to protect people using facilities. Proper railings and stairs must meet these standards to ensure accidents do not happen. Stairs and railings should be maintained on an ongoing basis with repairs performed whenever needed. Sidewalks and other areas of foot traffic should also be carefully maintained.
Hot food can burn skin of employees and customers. Liquids are particularly susceptible to overheating and lead to burns that can cause long-term injury. Food must always be prepared according to safe food handling and preparation guidelines to prevent food poisoning or proliferation of bacteria around food or food preparation surfaces. Food poisoning can almost always be prevented through proper handling, storage, preparation and cooking of consumables. Employees often cut themselves while using knives or other kitchen utensils.
--- Injuries to Restaurant Customers ---
Personal injury lawsuits can be entered by customers injured in a restaurant. The owner of the restaurant is usually the defendant of these cases, many of which involve negligence leading to injury. Each jurisdiction defines the level of care a restaurant owner must exhibit. But since restaurants serve the general public and financially benefit from customers, a high standard of care is usually required. There are many obligations that restaurant owners must meet, including periodic inspections for potential hazards, provision of warnings to customers of existing hazards and quick repair of dangers to customer or employee safety.
Whenever customers are injured or become ill after consuming restaurant food, the customers may seek compensation for the injuries or damages they suffered. Medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages and other damages are frequently gained by customers holding restaurants responsible for injury or illness.
--- Workers’ Compensation ---
Although customers are frequently the ones injured or caused other harm by restaurants, employees may also be the ones to suffer due to restaurant problems. Waiters and waitresses frequently experience injuries from slip and fall accidents, due to scalding food or liquid burns, or other causes. Bartenders often receive injuries from equipment they use or due to slipping and falling on spilled liquids. Auto collisions can injure food delivery drivers. Cooks are very likely to become injured through burns, cuts, scrapes, slips and falls, and other accidents due to working in the kitchen.
Workers’ compensation insurance usually protects employees when work-related injuries and illnesses are suffered. Some state laws include stipulations of workers’ compensation that should be clarified through human resource department materials and employee handbooks. Employees should always be made aware of how to file a claim with workers’ compensation, should an accident or injury occur while on-the-job in a restaurant.
Employees cannot usually sue their employer when they are injured at work. But some circumstances do provide for the possibility of a personal injury claim. When an employer has acted in a manner that is intentionally or grossly negligent, an injured employee can file such a claim for compensation. A third-party claim can also be filed by an employee of a restaurant, if someone else contributed to their injury. A good example of this scenario is a food delivery driver being able to file a claim against the other driver who caused an auto accident.
--- When You Are Injured in a Restaurant ---
Whether you are a customer or an employee, if you have been injured or made ill by a restaurant, you should contact a personal injury attorney to discuss the circumstances of your injury. In fact, a lawyer should be one of the first calls you make when you are hurt or become sick due to a food service establishment.
When there is a claim, it is imperative to start the case immediately. There may be a very limited period of time during which such a claim can be made, due to state statutes of limitations governing customer injury or illness. Injured workers should also reach out to a lawyer as soon as possible, for the same reason.
An experienced personal injury lawyer will usually provide a free, no-obligation consultation during which he or she will advise the victim of potential action for such a claim and protect the victim’s legal rights.