Restaurant Safety 101
Several of my clients are restaurants and in today’s blog post I will attempt to outline common safety concerns or OSHA violations I encounter during a typical safety audit. They are all easy fixes that require little or no cost to the client to implement.
1. Smoking is only allowed in designated exterior smoking areas.
2. Empty grease traps to prevent accumulation of grease and oily residues on surface.
3. Keep combustible materials a safe distance from cooking equipment.
4. Package and remove garbage and trash frequently.
5. Clean ducts and flues regularly.
6. Check electrical cords for wear and tear regularly.
7. Only trained and authorized employees are allowed to use a portable fire extinguisher in the event of a fire.
On a recent visit to a new client, fire prevention was front and center. While conducting a safety visit on very popular restaurant with multiple locations I asked to see their fire extinguishers, to make sure they were service annually and inspected monthly. The extinguisher in the main dining room we couldn’t find. We finally found it behind the hostess stand in a corner covered by a waste basket and several umbrellas. The funny thing is it had just been serviced and they chose to put it back behind the waste basket and umbrellas. After I told them how much the OSHA fine might be if they ever were inspected, it was promptly hung where it should have been all along.
1. With the exception of independently fused multi-tap cords for computers, extension cords are not allowed.
2. Keep electric cords out of areas where they can be damaged by stepping on or kicking them.
3. Turn electrical appliances off with the switch, not by pulling out the plug.
4. Turn all appliances of before leaving for the day.
5. Never run cords under rugs or other floor coverings.
6. Any electrical problems should be reported immediately.
The following areas must remain clear and unobstructed at all times:
· Exit doors
· Electrical panels
· Fire extinguishers
Another one of my clients with a large kitchen operation needed to address some electrical safety concerns. They had a multitude of electronic devices (modems, phone lines, internet and satellite TV service) without the proper number of electrical outlets. As a quick fix they ran an extension cord to each of the devices then plugged in multi-tap cords (daisy-chained) three of them. Again, I told them how OSHA would feel about it and they had an electrician come in and put in the proper electrical service. I guess money talks!
1. Keep walkways clear of equipment, boxes and trash.
2. Sweep debris surrounding equipment, trash cans or dishwashing stations to prevent slips, trips or falls.
3. Mop up water around drinking fountains, drink dispensing machines and ice machines.
4. Straighten or remove rugs and mats that do not lie flat on the floor.
5. Use caution signs or cones to barricade slippery areas, such as freshly mopped floors.
I was conducting an audit for a fast food restaurant and upon turning the corner to inspect the walk-in freezer I almost ran into a young girl. She was standing on a hand truck in front of the back door, because she couldn’t reach the top shelf to retrieve a package of paper napkins. She was also blocking the freezer door. Luckily, no one happened to be in the freezer wanting to get out at that time. Who know what kind of injuries she could have sustained!
Kitchen Personnel Safety
1. Do not remove safety guards provided on the equipment.
2. Do not fill pots, pans, buckets or cooker more than 2/3 full.
3. Transport hot liquids in closed containers.
4. Turn off gas supply and electrical current for appliances when they are not in use.
5. Turn off circuit breakers to kitchen cooking equipment when cleaning the equipment
1. Turn off slicers before making measurements, adjustments or repairs.
2. Do not stop looking at what you are slicing while using a slicer.
3. Wear a wire mesh or Kevlar glove when cleaning the exposed edge of a slicer.
1. Direct sharp points and edges away from you.
2. Cut in the direction away from your body when using knives.
3. Use a sharp knife, do not use dull blades.
4. Do no use a knife that has a broken or loose handles.
5. Do not leave knives in sinks full of water and do not pick them up by the blades.
6. Do not carry knives or other sharp tools in your pockets or apron unless they are in their sheath or holder.
7. Do not attempt to catch a falling knife.
8. Do not use honing steels that do not have disc guards.
On another occasion while visiting a chain of restaurants I noticed they had a section of the kitchen where they performed all their butchering of meats and cutting of vegetables. I observed they utilized expensive cutlery, but didn’t see any Kevlar, wire mesh gloves, or PPE for their employees. I asked the manager where they keep the protective gloves for cutting and he replied that they didn’t have any. Hmm, wonder what’s in today’s special!
1. Do not put your hands in the mixing bowl while the mixing bowl and mixer are in operation.
2. Use the stomper to push meat through the grinder attachment of a mixer.
1. Wear rubber gloves when washing and sanitizing dishes and cooking equipment.
2. Remove all chipped or cracked dishes and glassware from use.
1. Stack heavy or bulky storage containers on middle and lower shelves.
2. Do not lift slippery or wet objects; use a hand truck.
3. Follow the safe handling instructions listed on the label of the container or listed on the corresponding Safety Data Sheet (SDS) when handling each chemical stored in the stockroom.
4. Do not store chemicals labeled “flammable” near sources of ignition.
5. Do not handle or load any containers of chemicals if their containers are cracked or leaking.
6. Obey all safety and danger signs posted in the workplace.
Most of the restaurants I go into have stockroom issues. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how to stack items on a shelf, but oftentimes I need to go in and remove everything off the shelves. I then train them on the proper way to stack a shelf. Heavy items need to get placed on the lower shelves and light items on the upper shelves to avoid both back injuries and falling objects. A little common sense goes a long way!
1. Do not work on any computer or other electrical office machines if your hands are wet or if you are standing on wet floors.
2. Do not stand on a swivel chair.
3. Do not leave file drawers open; always use the handle to close them.
4. Do not stack file cabinets on top of each other.
5. Open one file cabinet drawer at a time.
6. Put heavy files in the bottom drawers of file cabinets.
While visiting with yet another restaurant client I noticed they had an old OSHA poster still up even though we had sent them a new “up to date” poster. I asked the assistant manager if she could put up the new poster. As I walked away to visit with the manager I turned around to only to see the assistant manager standing on a swivel office chair to hang the poster. A step ladder was no more than a few feet away. She had to pass the step ladder to get a chair from a nearby office. WOW!
Most of my clients are wonderful, but occasionally, you see things that make you say, WHAT ARE YOU THINKING! Any restaurant owner could implement most of these policies without cost and have an immediate impact on both workplace safety as well as company morale.