Americans love to dine out and the 8.1 million restaurant workers in the United States know it. Restaurant service providers, known as the “front” of the house, may include hosting staff, wait staff, and busboys. These workers may not slice, dice, and flambé on a regular basis, but there are hazards to consider in restaurant dining rooms.
Wet floors and fast service can lead to slip, trip, and fall hazards. Mop up spills and clean up spilled ice immediately. Use signs to designate wet floors. Use extra caution when walking near wet floor areas. Consider non-slip matting for areas that are consistently wet. Wear sensible and comfortable shoes that have a non-slip sole.
Customers expect good service, not speed records. Hurrying in a busy, crowded restaurant leads to accidents. Slow down when you are entering swinging doors and moving around blind corners. Windows in swing doors, mirrors, and communication systems such as “coming in” or “coming out” can prevent collisions. Keep walkways clear and clutter-free. Do not carry items that block your view.
Serving hot beverages and plates hot from the kitchen, microwave, or heat lamp can cause burns. Use trays, hot pads, or dry waiter’s cloths to carry and serve hot plates. Get training on the hot beverage equipment before you use it. Never stick your hands where hot liquids are dispensed. Leave the coffee pot in the machine until it is done percolating.
Clean up broken glassware or dishes with a broom and dustpan or pieces of cardboard, never your hands. Do not blindly plunge your hands into soapy sinks or bus tubs; they may contain broken glassware or knives. Properly dispose of broken glass and place sharp knives in designated bins when you clear tables. Only use a metal or plastic scoop to collect ice.
In a restaurant, you may be on your feet a lot, lift heavy trays and tubs, and serve from heavy plates and pitchers. Keep trays and tubs lighter by making multiple trips or getting another person to help. Carry heavy loads at waist height where you have the most power. Use both hands to carry coffee pots and pitchers. Hold the pot close to your body and with straight wrists—do not let the pot “hang.” Do not lean over a table or reach too far to serve—it is better to walk around the table and serve closer to your customer. Use neutral posture and vary your positions and tasks frequently. Take mini-breaks every 15-to-20 minutes to stretch and rest.
Dealing with the public, handling money, and working in the early morning or late evening hours are risk factors for workplace violence. Learn techniques to calmly handle customers and complaints. Use good cash management strategies by keeping the cash register closed when not in use and limiting cash on site. Keep back doors closed and locked. Consider a safety action plan for robberies and/or violence before they happen and train on how to handle these situations. Report all threats and violence to your supervisor.
These are all tips to help restaurant workers dish up safety with their service and smiles.