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It is imperative that proper safety gear is not only provided, but that employees are encouraged to use it.

5 Ways to Promote Safety in Restaurants

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These strategies can help keep employees and assets safe.
By Heather Lomax November 2017 Expert Insights

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employers must create a safe working environment. However, employees have a critical part to play in ensuring safety in the workplace. It is because safety ends with them. Employers can put safety policies in place and even acquire safety gear, but if the employees of the firm do not observe these safety policies or use the gear, there will be no workplace safety. In workplace such as a restaurant, there are safety risks everywhere. Employees can ensure safety through various ways.

1. Wearing Shoes That Do Not Slip
Shoes are safety gear by themselves. They protect legs and feet from falling objects or spills, which can burn skin. However, they can also be a safety hazard if employees do not wear the appropriate shoes. In a restaurant, liquid food substances can spill on the floor and make the floor very slippery. Even with no spills, some types of flooring could be slippery, and a restaurant is somewhere no one would want to slip, because of the many objects around employees; you can even fall into some hot liquid or sharp objects. The best shoes to wear in the restaurant setting are ones that have rubber soles. Rubber has a good grip on the different types of flooring that are in use in different restaurants. Obviously, the best are certified non-slip shoes, which some employers do provide for employees.

2. Safety with Knives
A kitchen is not complete with a plethora of knives and other sharp objects. Knives are an integral tool for the kitchen, and they pose a safety hazard when not handled properly. Safety starts with having proper storage for the knives when they are not in use. Proper storage will ensure that the employees in the restaurant do not leave knives anywhere. A knife left on the counter can fall and injure someone.

Many restaurants and foodservice providers use large magnetic strips to hold knives in clear site.  These tend to be safer then knife blocks, as there is less chance for them to fall over and potentially injure someone.

Apart from storage of their knives, it is critical to ensure that employees use the right knife for the intended job. The key aspects that determine the right knife include its size and sharpness. Employees should also ensure that the knives they are using are in good condition. For example, they should have handles that are in the right shape. They should not be loose. There are different types of safety gear that a person can use to avoid sustaining cuts when using knives, such as gloves that are resistant to cuts. 

3. Electricity Safety
Most of the time when stakeholders address issues concerning safety in the workplace environment they forget electricity. Electricity has the potential to kill and even cause fires that can destroy a restaurant. First, it is important to ensure that the electric equipment used in the restaurant is in good working condition. Any cables that carry electricity should be insulated. In case they are any faulty ones, the employees should not handle them themselves and should seek the assistance of experts. Also, these cables should be located in areas that they will not come into contact with water or grease easily. They should be away from walkways because people can trip over them.

4. Emergency Equipment
Accidents can happen even when everyone observes the safety policies and uses the safety equipment that management has in place. When such scenarios happen, it is critical that the people in the respective workplace understand how to use the emergency equipment. The knowledge will prevent further harm from occurring. An example is an accident that results in a fire. Using emergency fire equipment to put out the fire will prevent it from spreading and causing more damage. Another example is a personal injury. Administering first to the injured person will prevent further damage to their bodies, which enables them to heal faster.  

5. Dealing with Workplace Stress
Restaurants are busy workplaces. Cooks and waiters could be busy every minute of their shift, and the result of this is stress. Stress can affect the thinking of an individual and will have a negative impact on their concentration. The lack of concentration is a key factor in the occurrence of accidents. For example, a stressed cook can put oil in a pan and forget, leading to fire. Therefore, it is critical that management encourages employees to approach their supervisors on the issues that stress them. It will ensure they have a healthy mind when performing their duties in the workplace. 

Promoting safety in a restaurant is not a simple feat. There are different methods you can use to achieve safety in the workplace. Overall, training employees on safety is the most effective method.

Heather Lomax is a contributing writer and media relations specialist for Training Network. She writes articles for various safety blogs, offering advice on safety within many different industries, as well as how to promote and reward proper training practices.