My Love Of The Law

Best Practices for Limiting Restaurant Kitchen Employee Burn Liability

by Alan Medina

Scalding water splashing into a work glove, an elbow bumping into an open oven door, and a slip on the floor while holding a hot pan can all lead to injuries that may result in a worker's compensation insurance claim for your restaurant. If you want to keep your employees safe and avoid the headache and added expenses of these claims, you will need to find ways to make your kitchen safer in order to mitigate burn risks.

Each new hire must be trained on how to work safely. This will reduce worker's compensation liability, improve employee morale, and prevent disruptions in the kitchen work flow. Here are some of the most important safety tips to teach your employees:

Reduce the Number of Employees in the Kitchen

The number of employees in a hazardous work area should be kept to a minimum. Employees may want to chat near the oven, for example, but the fewer staff members in dangerous areas, the less of a risk that there will be an injury.

Use Protective Equipment and Enforce Proper Attire

Employees must be trained on the proper protective equipment that can prevent burns, including oven mitts and waterproof work gloves. Employees should be trained on where to store these protective clothing items when not in use. Managers should make sure employees wear slip-resistant footwear and that their shoe laces are always tied to prevent tripping.

Place Microwaves in a Sensible Location

Microwaves should be placed at a location where it is easy to reach the contents. For example, if the microwave is warming up a liquid and the employee has to reach above his or her head to grab the item, it will be harder to control and more likely to spill.

Inspect Containers, Pots, and Pans for Damage

Equipment that handles hot food products must be inspected every night to make sure that it is in good working condition. For instance, a pan should be inspected for any holes that may cause hot grease to seep through. Handles should always be well-attached and lids should be tightly-fitted.

Install Deep Fryer Safety Features

Employees who fry food must use splash screens. Employees should not be required to handle hot waste cooking oil. Instead, choose a deep fryer that has been engineered to empty the waste to a separate receptacle where it can cool. Food should be lowered automatically into a fryer to limit employee exposure.

Eliminate Slip and Fall Hazards

Cooking areas should be kept clean and free from debris, especially on the floor. Any spills should be cleaned up immediately so employees do not slip and burn themselves. Ideally, a single employee should be responsible for cleaning up all spills.

There is plenty of information online about workers compensation—check it out to learn more about what it involves and how you can make your restaurant a safe place to work.