The recent news that North Carolina has lifted social distancing rules in places such as restaurants has been a long time coming during the COVID-19 pandemic. As restaurants try to get back to normal, these businesses welcome customers who venture out for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
And restaurants also welcome employees, some of whom were out of work for more than a year. This group includes managers, hosts, wait staff, chefs, line and prep cooks, bartenders, bussers, dishwashers, maintenance and other support staff. They are back at work, and they, once again, face the same safety hazards that can lead to a variety of injuries such as lacerations, burns, sprains and fractures.
Cuts, slips, falls and burns
The pressure often is on restaurant workers to get their tasks done swiftly. Even so, restaurants must protect their workers, providing them with proper training and a safe work environment that minimizes all hazards.
Here are some common injuries that confront restaurant and food industry workers many of whom are young:
- Lacerations, cuts and punctures: Knives, slicers, food processors, box cutters and broken glassware and dishware often are the source of these injuries.
- Slips, trips and falls: Any food-related substance on the floor may lead to injuries such as fractures and traumatic brain injury. They may include water on the restaurant’s main floor or oil on the kitchen floor. And some workers fall when reaching for an item or climbing.
- Strains and sprains: These injuries may occur due to lifting heavy objects, awkward lifts and bends, repetitive motion and standing for lengthy periods. Back and tendon problems are not uncommon.
- Scalds and burns: Kitchen staff face such injuries working with ovens, grills, deep fryers and oils that reach high temperatures.
- Respiratory and skin ailments: Chemicals in cleaning products and pesticides may lead to respiratory problems. They also can cause damage to the skin.
A restaurant is only as good as its employees, not just the food and service. Employers must understand the value that their workers provide. They also must protect them and subscribe to better safety training.