Restaurant Worker Slip and Fall Accidents
How do slip and fall accidents happen at food service locations? Liquid spills happen with some regularity at restaurants in Aurora and other food-service locations. The fact that spills happen usually does not come as a surprise to restaurant owners or their employees, given that servers carry drinks to and from tables constantly, and often very quickly. However, just because liquid spills are prevalent in the restaurant industry does not mean that workers should feel as though they are at risk of serious injuries from slips and falls. Slips and falls can also happen without liquid spills. For instance, greasy kitchen floors or uneven carpeting can quickly catch a server off-guard.
How can we prevent restaurant slips and falls? And what can injury victims do to seek compensation for injuries sustained in a serious slip and fall accident?
Same-Level Falls and Food Service Employees
When we think about injuries in fall-related accidents, many of us envision the dangers associated with falls from heights. But as a pamphlet from the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety underscores, same-level falls (or, those happening on a level surface) often result in severe injuries to food service workers. The Institute conducted a study analyzing limited-service restaurants (or fast-food, as most of us know these locations) to determine why and how often slips and falls happen.
The findings from the study appeared in Injury Prevention, and “revealed a high frequency of slipping among restaurant workers.” The authors of the study defined slipping as “a loss of traction of the foot.” What leads to these slip and fall, or same-level, accidents? Relying on data from employees of 36 different restaurants, the researchers came to some of the following conclusions:
- Poor training in and enforcement of cleaning protocols tends to result in slips and falls, especially when employees use enzyme-based cleaners in conjunction with warm or hot water. These types of cleaners require cold water to function properly, and the presence of warm water can limit the ability for an enzyme-based cleaning product to properly remove a greasy area;
- Requiring slip-resistant footwear may be able to cut the rates of slipping by about 50 percent;
- Rushing around a restaurant space increases the risk of a slip, trip, or fall by 2.9 times;
- Distraction during work increases the risk of slipping by 1.7 times; and
- Walking on a floor that is contaminated—with a liquid spill, grease, etc.—increases an employee’s risk of slipping by 14.6 times.
Preventing Injuries in Restaurant Slips and Falls
As a web pamphlet from the National Restaurant Association highlights, it only takes one slip for a restaurant worker to suffer a serious—and preventable—injury. Of course, patrons, too, can suffer severe slip and fall accidents when spills are not properly cleaned up in a timely manner, opening up restaurant owners to liability. What should employers do to prevent accidents? The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends the following prevention methods:
- Maintain sanitary walking and working surfaces;
- Keep restaurant floors clean and dry;
- Remove obstructions from aisles or passageways;
- Keep flooring in aisles and passageways in good repair;
- Use warning signs when floors are wet;
- Provide adequate lighting along floor areas;
- Quickly repair uneven floor surfaces;
- Use no-skid waxes on floor areas; and
- Require employees to wear no-skid shoes.