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5 Safety Tips Every New Restaurant Owner Needs to Know

Food Services

Starting a new restaurant is exciting. You get to combine your passion for food with your business knowhow, creating what could become the primary source of your income. A lot of work has to go into starting the business, and you may be coming at it from a number of different angles – there's the savvy business major who wants to break into the industry, the chef who's ready to branch out on his own or the amateur who wants to take their skills to the next level. Each one of these perspectives – and there are many more – will have its own set of unique challenges. But when it comes to safety, everyone has to abide by the same standards of quality, hygiene and government regulation.

You probably can't avoid reading the dense safety material put out by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), but here are a few important safety tips for restaurants as you jumpstarted on your new business venture.

Focus on Ergonomics

Ergonomics doesn't only apply to office chairs – it's an important factor of workplace health, especially in the restaurant industry where employees are standing for long periods of time. According to OSHA, standing in the same place over an extended time period can cause strain in the back, legs and feet. It's recommended that thick, slip-resistant floor mats be installed in areas where workers will be standing – these serve the double purpose of providing ergonomic relief and lessening the risk of slip-and-fall injuries. Restaurant owners should also give their employees frequent breaks to sit down, bend their legs or stretch.


Make All Hazards Recognizable

Some safety hazards, like a hot grill, are easy to recognize, while others, like cleaning solvents, might not be so simple to spot. When an employee is focused on his job – making great food – he might not stop to think about putting on gloves before using a solvent to clean up a mess. The best way to prevent such accidents is to clearly label all hazards. Food Services of America reported that this isn't an option. OSHA regulation stipulates that chemical hazards must be communicated to employees through training, labels and data sheets.


Issue Proper Uniforms

Uniforms might seem like an aesthetic component of the restaurant, but they serve a number of important safety functions as well. Your wait staff may only need to wear formal clothes and solid, comfortable shoes, but your back-of-house staff will need a few more considerations. Food Service Warehouse suggested that kitchen staff wear hair nets, rubber or plastic gloves, aprons and slip-resistant shoes. Depending on each of the employee's responsibilities, they might have to regularly wear some of these safety articles for their own protection, as well as to protect the food from bacteria and other health hazards.


Create a Checklist For Slipping Hazards

Slip-and-fall injuries are one of the most common hazards in restaurant work. Spilled food, ice and water can create dangerous conditions that might go unnoticed until it's too late. In a workspace that includes hot burners and sharp objects, the chance of severe injury as a result of a fall grows exponentially. OSHA recommended several items to add to your safety checklist regarding slips and falls: (1) All staff should wear shoes with slip-resistant soles; (2) All stairs should have handrails and increased traction; (3) Lighting should be bright to allow for maximum visibility; (4) Spills should be mopped up immediately; (5) There should be a strict housekeeping schedule and; (6) Uneven flooring or worn-out carpeting should be replaced immediately.


Have Burn Prevention Training

Even minor burn injuries can lead to days away from work. Having a solid training program will prevent pain and injury as wells as loss of productivity. Food Services of America recommended having special training for each piece of equipment that could cause burns, such as deep fryers, steamers, braising pans and range tops. Potholders should always be readily accessible, too. And kitchen staff need to be vocal when moving about the kitchen with hot items.


Owning a restaurant is a rewarding and exciting experience. Keep the ship sailing smoothly by creating a thorough safety program. Follow the above tips and read up on other important guidelines and regulations. Only with a great safety program will your business thrive and grow.