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“Whoops! Boom!”—Combating Slip and Fall Risks for Restaurant Workers

Posted D. Joseph Chapman on Dec 14, 2013 in Workers' Compensation

What is the greatest hazard for food service employees?

If you guessed “falling down on the job,” you win. Restaurant and tavern workers face surprisingly high rates of slip and trip accidents. The National Floor Safety Institute estimates that more than three million food service employees are hurt each year because of fall accidents at work, representing a cost of over $2 billion. Nearly half of all workers’ compensation payments in the food service industry are due to slip and fall incidents.

It’s not hard to understand why this is so. Kitchens, bars, and food preparation areas are often sites of spilled food or grease—causing a walking hazard for the next employee to enter the area. Poorly lit areas for food storage and trash collection, worn carpets, stairs and entrances all can make safe footing difficult.

It’s No Laughing Matter

As Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers, we’ve become used to the fact that some people will laugh at the idea of a serious injury caused by a trip or fall. They shouldn’t. While most food service employee trip and fall injuries are limited to bruises, strained muscles, and minor sprains, much more severe damage can result, such as:

  • Joint damage to knees, shoulders, pelvis, ankles, or fingers
  • Broken bones
  • Internal injuries and soft tissue injuries
  • Spine injuries
  • Concussion and brain trauma—which may cause coma or death

How Employers Can Address the Risks

In Pennsylvania, the workers’ compensation program provides financial recovery for food service workers who have been injured on the job from any cause, including slip and fall accidents. Employers will find, however, that a better approach is to work to reduce falling accidents on the premises. Not only can this action reduce their labor costs, but many of these preventive actions will also reduce the risks of slip and fall injuries for patrons.

Key tips for a safer workplace include:

  • Keep floors clean – Train employees to clean up spills immediately to reduce slip hazards.
  • Use slip-resistant cleaning products – Safe cleaning supplies should always be on hand.
  • Wear safe shoes – Slip-resistant shoes are inexpensive and effective. Employers may wish to pay for safety footwear for workers. These shoes should be replaced when they show signs of wear.
  • Turn up the lighting in hazardous areas – Don’t let your dining room “ambiance” become a safety hazard.
  • Clearly mark uneven floors and entryways – Alert employees and patrons alike when there is change in levels.
  • Emphasize fall risks when training employees – Don’t forget that even long-term employees can benefit from a safety refresher.

For the Employee Who Has Fallen

If you are a restaurant employee who has been hurt in a slip and fall accident, we hope that your injuries are minor and that you have had no trouble claiming your workers’ compensation benefits in this difficult time.

We’re aware that some Pennsylvania workers’ compensation insurance carriers try to take advantage of injured workers, believing they will not fight back against denied and delayed claims. At Schmidt Kramer, we think that this behavior is shockingly offensive. Our Harrisburg workers’ compensation lawyers regularly help injured people in Steelton, Mechanicsburg, Rutherford, Palmyra, and other nearby communities claim the full amount they are due for medical coverage and wage replacement benefits.

If you are fighting to get your fair workers’ comp benefits in Pennsylvania, contact our law firm at 717-888-8888 locally or 888-476-0807 toll-free. We would be glad to answer your questions in a FREE lawyer consultation about your case. When you call, request your free copy of our helpful client brochure, Who Pays the Bills When You Are Injured at Work?