According to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI), more than three million food service employees and one million guests are injured as a result of slip-and-fall accidents annually. The industry spends more than an established $2B for slip and fall-related injuries, and this number is rising by 10 percent each year, according to an NFSI study.
Operators should set the standard of safety within their hospitality businesses by taking steps to mitigate risks within the restaurant, educating staff members about potential slip and fall hazards, and providing guidance on steps to take should a slip and fall accident occur.
Slip and fall accidents can result in serious, sometimes fatal, injuries. Fractures are a serious consequence of falls, with five percent of all falls resulting in this type of injury. The most common fractures from a slip and fall are wrist, ankle and hip. Falls can also result in traumatic head injuries, which can have life-altering effects, depending on the severity.
Common Factors That Lead to Slip and Falls
Half of all slip-and-fall accidents that occur in restaurants are due to wet or dangerous floors, according to the NFSI. Some common factors that can lead to slips, trips, and falls on floor surfaces are wet or oily surfaces, spills, weather hazards like rain or snow, loose, unanchored mats or rugs, and uneven traction.
In addition, hazards like poor lighting, obstructed views, clutter, wrinkled or damaged carpeting, uncovered cables, and uneven steps and walking surfaces may also cause slips, trips and falls. Inadequate hazard identification, inappropriate footwear, and insufficient training can also lead to these types of injuries.
How to Reduce Risks in Restaurants
Under Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) law, employers have a duty to provide a reasonably safe work environment. For this reason, employers should take the initiative to set the standard of safety within the restaurant by implementing strategies to reduce slip and fall-related risks and prevent accidents. Best practices for mitigating slips, trips and falls on the job may vary per work environment; however, there are some that are universally applicable.
First, it’s important for employers and/or managers to scan the work area for potential safety risks prior to workers performing job duties. This means taking regular walk-through audits of floors and walkways to help identify hazards that could lead to slip and fall accidents.
Second, consider holding restaurant safety meetings to reinforce safe behaviors in the workplace. Use this as an opportunity to regularly educate staff on important safety guidelines and allow them to ask questions and provide feedback.
One of the most important types of PPE to consider in the hospitality industry is proper footwear. Did you know that 75% of all work-related slip and fall accidents in the food service industry can be reduced with proper floor maintenance and slip-resistant shoes? Slip-resistant shoes improve friction with the floor and can make wet and dry surfaces safer for staff members to walk on. Employers should advise workers to wear task-appropriate footwear with good traction.
Some additional tips to keep in mind are:
- Clean up spills quickly
- Use the appropriate safety signage to block off wet areas and other hazards.
- Maintain clean working areas.
- Create a set schedule to prevent a buildup of slippery materials. Keep everyone well-informed of the schedule throughout each shift.
- Be mindful of safety signage, and do not enter blocked-off areas.
- Watch for slippery floors when walking into the building.
- Place non-slip mats in areas that frequently get wet or where spills often occur.
- Make safety a regular conversation between restaurant employers, managers and staff.
Steps to Take Following a Slip-and Fall-Accident
Should a worker suffer a slip and fall accident in the restaurant, it is critical that management and fellow workers follow emergency protocol to help them and prevent other injuries from occurring.
Should a slip-and-fall accident occur in a restaurant, it’s important for management and fellow staff members to remain calm and apply first aid if needed. Injuries that result from slips and falls can be serious, so if emergency services are required, do not hesitate to call 911. Workers who suffer injuries may initially say they are fine, but they may be in shock from the accidents, and their condition may be worse than they think. For this reason, it’s best to have a doctor evaluate and treat any injuries.
Workers who suffer an injury while performing workplace duties may be able to recover benefits for medical bills and reimbursement of lost wages through workers’ compensation. For workers injured as a result of a third party’s negligence, outside of an employer or coworker, they may wish to file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party to recover monetary losses, coverage for disability and medical expenses, as well as pain and suffering. Should a worker wish to pursue a personal injury claim, they may benefit from seeking the legal advice of an experienced accident lawyer.
Slips, trips and falls are unfortunately common in restaurants and can often result in serious injuries. It’s up to both management and staff to work together to prevent these incidents in the workplace. Employers and managers should take the lead by implementing property safety protocols such as ensuring the floor areas are free of visible hazards and clutter, having workers wear adequate non-slip footwear, and providing training to workers to identify risks and mitigate them to help keep them and their fellow workers safe.