Employee Safety

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Safety is no accident —and in a food service environment, that means good planning and thorough employee education. Accidents affect not only employee well-being but also the restaurant’s bottom line, through higher workers’ compensation costs, higher insurance cost, lost work days and diminished employee satisfaction with their workplace.

Thorough preparation for accidents and emergencies includes developing a plan for each type of emergency situation that could arise in your restaurant—including fires, medical emergencies, power outages and other mishaps. Being prepared involves three key steps:

Anticipate what might happen.

Plan what you will do in response to an emergency.
Train your employees so they know what to do.

Designing a Safety Plan That's Right For You
As each restaurant is different, your accident prevention program may differ from your neighbors' or competitors'. An effective program addresses your specific business needs.

7 Steps to an Effective Safety Plan
While the details may vary, there are seven basic elements that are always found in workplaces with a good accident prevention program. If followed, the seven-point approach to safety and health in your restaurant should help you improve efficiency and reduce costs.

Click on each step for added details.

The top manager assumes the leadership role
Policy Statements
Sample Policy Statement
Responsibility for safety and health activities is clearly assigned
Possible accident causes are properly identified and either eliminated or controlled
Appropriate safety and health-related training is instituted
An "accident" record system is being maintained
A plan for emergencies
On-the-job awareness and acceptance of safety and health responsibility by every employee

1.  The top manager assumes the leadership role.
Policy Statements
Sample Policy Statement
As the owner or manager of a restaurant your employees will reflect your attitude toward job safety and health. Leave no doubts about your personal concern for employee safety and health and the priority you place on them in your restaurant.

Here are some action items for your consideration:
Post the OSHA workplace poster, Job Safety and Health Protection, where all employees can see it. (This is an OSHA requirement.)
Hold meetings with all employees to discuss job safety and health matters.
Write a "policy statement" and post this statement near the OSHA workplace poster so that everyone is reminded of your concern.
Establish a "Code of Safe Practices" for all employees.
Include job safety and health topics in meetings and conversations with employees.
Analyze losses and insurance claims to identify problem areas
Personally review all inspection and accident reports to ensure follow-up when needed.
Comment on good or bad safety records and provide accident prevention guidance on a routine basis.

Policy Statements
Policy statements can vary in length and content, depending on whether they only contain policy, or also include company philosophies, rules and procedures. Adoption of a written safety policy may result in up to a 25% reduction in any fines that OSHA may assess as a result of an inspection of your restaurant.

Sample Policy Statement
The personal safety and health of each employee of this company is of primary importance. The prevention of injuries and illnesses is of such consequence that it will be given precedence over operating productivity whenever necessary.

We will maintain a safety and health program conforming to the best practices of organizations of this type. To be successful, such a program must embody the proper attitudes toward injury and illness prevention on the part of supervisors and employees. It also requires cooperation in all safety and health matters, not only between supervisor and employee, but also between each employee and his or her co-workers. Only through such a cooperative effort can a safety program in the best interest of all be established and preserved.

Our objective is a safety and health program that will reduce the number of injuries and illnesses to an absolute minimum, not merely in keeping with, but surpassing, the best experience of operation similar to ours. Our goal is zero accidents and injuries.

Our safety and health program will include:

We recognize that the responsibilities for safety and health are shared:

The employer accepts the responsibility for leadership of the safety and health program, for its effectiveness and improvement, and for providing the safeguards required to ensure safe conditions.
Supervisors are responsible for developing the proper attitudes toward safety and health in themselves and in those they supervise, and for ensuring that all operations are performed with the utmost regard for the safety and health of all personnel involved, including themselves.
Employees are responsible for cooperation with all aspects of the safety and health program-including compliance with all rules and regulation and for continuously practicing safety while performing their duties.

All employees of this restaurant shall follow these safe practice rules, render every possible aid to safe operations, and report all unsafe conditions or practices of the supervisor.
Supervisors shall insist that employees observe and obey every rule, regulation and order necessary to the safe conduct of the work, and shall take such action necessary to obtain compliance.
All employees shall be given frequent accident prevention instruction. Instruction, practice drills and articles concerning workplace safety and health shall be given at least once every ___ working days.
No one shall knowingly be permitted or required to work while his or her ability or alertness is impaired by fatigue, illness or other causes that might expose the individual or others to injury. Anyone known to be under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs shall not be allowed on the job while in that condition.
Employees should be alert to see that all guards and other protective devices are in proper places and adjusted, and shall report deficiencies. Approved protective equipment shall be worn in specified work areas.
Horseplay, scuffling and other acts, which tend to endanger the safety or well-being of employees are prohibited.
Work shall be well planned and supervised to prevent injuries when working with equipment and handling heavy materials.
Workers shall not handle or tamper with any equipment or machinery in a manner not within the scope of their duties, unless they have received specific instructions from their supervisor.
All injuries shall be reported promptly to the supervisor so that arrangements can be made for medical and/or first aid treatment.

2. Responsibility for safety and health activities is clearly assigned.
You need to commit yourself and your company to building an effective safety and health program into your whole operation. Backing your commitment with strong organizational policies and procedures will help you develop a foundation for successful action. Strong management commitment to workplace safety and health will produce such signs of success as:

Workplace objectives for safety and health, like those you set for other business functions such as sales or productivity. For example, you might have objectives such as "Ten percent fewer injuries next year," or "Reduce downtime due to poorly maintained equipment."
Your staff has safety and health responsibilities as well as production responsibilities.
Your supervisors and employees know that they are accountable for their safety and health responsibilities, and will be rewarded for good performance or advised on how to correct any problems.
Company resources -- financial, material and personnel have allocated for identifying and controlling hazards and potential hazards and promoting and training employees on safety and health.
There are clear lines of communication for your employees to tell you of their safety and health concerns.
Your employees know of your concern for safety and health because you:
Include safety and health topics in meetings and conversations with employees.
Take any necessary corrective action after inspections or accidents.
Provide feedback on their safety concerns and performance.
Once you have made the commitment to having a good safety and health program, the next step is to decide who in your restaurant is the most appropriate person to manage this program. Whomever you choose, it should be a person who is as committed to safety and health as you are, who has the time to devote to developing and managing the program, and who is willing to take on the responsibility and the accountability that goes with operating an effective program.

3. Possible accident causes are properly identified and either eliminated or controlled.
To maintain a safe and healthful workplace, you need to do two things:

Identify workplace hazards that exist now or could develop.
Implement procedures to control these hazards and eliminate them if possible.
The most widely accepted way to identify hazards is to conduct safety and health inspections. The only way you can be certain of the actual situation is for you to take a close look at it from time to time.

Once the hazards have been identified, control procedures can be instituted using the following guidelines. These control procedures will be your basic means for preventing accidents.

Eliminating the hazard from the machine or the method.
Overcoming the hazard by limiting exposure or controlling it at its source.
Training personnel to be aware of the hazard and to follow safe work procedures to avoid it.

4. Appropriate safety and health-related training is instituted.
An effective accident prevention program requires proper job performance from everyone in the restaurant. As an owner or manager, you must ensure that all employees know about the materials and equipment they work with, what known hazards are in the operation, and how you control the hazards or intend to eliminate them.

Each employee needs to know the following:
No employee is expected to undertake a job until he or she has received job instructions on how to do it properly and has been authorized to perform that job.
No employee should undertake a job that appears to be unsafe.
Mechanical safeguards must be kept in place.
Each employee should report all unsafe conditions encountered during work.
Any injury or illness suffered by an employee, even a slight one, must be reported at once.
Regular safety meetings to reinforce training and to remind employees of hazards are important. These meetings should be conducted at least every month and preferably on a weekly basis. Topics may include proper handling of knives and cutting equipment, lifting, keeping floors dry and clear, accidents that have occurred, or any relevant subject.

5. An "accident" record system is being maintained.
Keeping records of your activities, such as policy statements, training sessions for management and employees safety and health meetings held, information distributed to employees, and medical arrangements made, is greatly encouraged.

Develop an emergency medical procedure for handling injuries, transporting ill or injured workers and notifying medical facilities with a minimum of confusion. And institute a procedure for reporting injuries and illnesses that is understood by all employees.

6. A plan for emergencies.
The first step in handling emergencies is to anticipate what types of emergencies could arise at your restaurant. A safety and health survey will help you identify hazards and eliminate or control them so that accidents and emergencies do not arise.

There are four major issues to consider when planning responses to emergencies.

Notification (Emergency Alert). You need to design a system so that any employee who notices an emergency situation developing can notify you or other management personnel.
Limit Employee Exposure. Focus your emergency response efforts on limiting employee exposure to the emergency hazard. This includes protecting employees who may be exposed to a hazard while trying to assist in an emergency (i.e., putting out a fire, rescuing a worker, etc.).
Hazard Control, and Equipment and/or Process Shutdown. In planning for hazard control, first consider any regulations that specify required actions for fire control, evacuation, etc.
Medical Treatment. Even with comprehensive treatment available offsite in a clinic or hospital, your staff should still be trained to give initial treatment to stabilize victims and prepare them for transport.

7. On-the-job awareness and acceptance of safety and health responsibility by every employee.
All of your work to anticipate emergencies and plan appropriate responses won't help much unless you train your supervisors and employees to carry out your plans. Make an easy-to-follow training plan and back it up with regularly refresher meetings.


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