The restaurant industry sees its fair share of work-related injuries, but restaurants seem to be a particularly dangerous place for teens to work. According to a Health Day article, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) estimates that about 44,800 injuries were sustained by teenage restaurant workers over a two-year period. Of those injuries, an estimated 28,000 (63 percent) took place in hamburger, pizza, or other fast-food establishments.
Restaurant workers can become injured for a number of reasons, including:
- Lifting and balancing heavy trays
- Lifting and moving tables, chairs, and other furniture
- Slip and fall accidents
- Lack of or broken railings on stairways
- Burns by hot food or drinks, ovens, stoves, deep fryers, or other kitchen appliances
- Sharp kitchen tools and utensils
- Hazardous chemicals
- Noise and other occupational hazards
- Auto accidents while delivering food
The NIOSH study found that nearly half of the injuries involved hot grease and that more than half of the injuries from falls were caused by wet or greasy floors. The study also found that males were more likely to have burns, lacerations, and other injuries related to cooking, while females were more likely to suffer sprains, strains, and contusions associated with cashiering and clearing tables.
How to Prevent Restaurant Worker Injuries
NIOSH and restaurant industry experts offer the following safety tips for preventing restaurant worker injuries:
- Prevent burn injuries by providing employees with appropriate gloves and scrapers and other cleaning tools with handles.
- Allow hot grease to cool before you move it.
- Wherever possible, use slip-resistant flooring to prevent falls and keep floors dry and well maintained.
- Wear nonskid shoes to prevent slipping.
- Extinguish hot oil or grease fires by sliding a lid over the container.
- Avoid reaching over or across hot surfaces and burners.
- Don’t plug in electrical equipment while touching a wet or damp surface.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Injured Restaurant Employees
Restaurant employees – such as waiters, waitresses, bartenders, delivery drivers, and cooks – are generally entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for any work-related injuries or illnesses regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Although injured workers are not allowed to sue the employer, depending on the cause of the injury, a restaurant worker may be entitled to personal injury damages in a third-party cause of action. For instance, if a restaurant delivery driver was injured in an auto accident, he or she may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, as well as personal injury damages from the negligent motorist.
Contact an Restaurant Worker Injury Lawyer
If you are a restaurant worker who was injured while on the job, contact the Chicago workers’ compensation law firm of Ankin Law Office, LLC at (312) 600-0000 to learn more about how to recover workers’ compensation or other money damages.