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The Risks Food Service Workers Face on the Job

Do You Recognize These People?

  • Katie has been working as a restaurant server and hostess for nearly thirty years now. She’s very familiar with the risks that go with the job—or so she thought. Four months ago, she was picking up an order from the kitchen when she slipped on a dropped tomato. Four months of physical therapy have not been helpful, and tomorrow she is scheduled for total shoulder replacement surgery and the insertion of an artificial joint.
  • Terrance (“Please don’t call me Terry”) has been tending bar at an upscale hotel lounge for over a decade. While slicing lime wedges a few weeks ago, Terrance suddenly felt shooting pains in his forearm so severe that he nearly passed out. His doctor says that he has advanced cubital tunnel syndrome, a nerve injury probably caused by the ways he uses his hands at work.
  • Jeanne is the chief assistant to the owner of a catering business. Last weekend, she was in charge of setting up the reception for the Sadler wedding. En route to the site, the driver of a transit bus lost control of his vehicle and slammed into Jeanne’s van, which rolled across the highway. Jeanne’s right leg had to be amputated at the knee.

When most people think about workplace injuries, their thoughts turn first to occupations that deal with heavy industrial equipment and power machinery, such as construction work or manufacturing. While those jobs do have high risks, they employ relatively few people. For a job category that exposes thousands of Pennsylvania citizens to surprising on-the-job hazards, you don’t have to look any further than the food service industry.

Danger in the Dining Room

Food and beverage workers face a broad range of potential hazards through the course of their workdays. Among the most common food service workplace injuries, we would have to include:

  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Motor vehicle accidents for delivery drivers and caterers
  • Frostbite and freezing injuries from prolonged exposure in freezers or use of liquid nitrogen
  • Thermal burns from cooking vessels, ovens, open flames, deep-fat fryers, and hot beverages
  • Electrical burns
  • Lifting and carrying injuries, including back injuries, joint damage, and other musculoskeletal injuries
  • Cuts, puncture wounds, and amputations from knives, meat slicers, can openers, and broken glass
  • Repetitive stress injuries for food servers, busboys, meat cutters, and bartenders

In Pennsylvania, almost all private businesses are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance; some of the largest companies are allowed to self-insure. Food service employees who have been hurt on the job are assured that workers’ compensation will pay for the medical bills for their workplace injury, and also pay a portion of the wages they lose while unable to work.

However, many restaurants, taverns, and other food service operations work on very slender profit margins. Sometimes the owner doesn’t buy the required insurance policy, or tries to cut costs by failing to pay on legitimate claims. What happens then?

Schmidt Kramer: Your Ally in Claiming the Workers’ Compensation Benefits You Deserve

The rules for workers’ compensation in Pennsylvania forbid employees from filing personal injury lawsuits against their employers. However, the law permits filing a suit to demand payment of the workers’ compensation benefits that are being denied you.

That’s where Schmidt Kramer comes in. The workers’ compensation attorneys at our law firm have a sterling record of success in getting the full value of benefits our clients deserve. We regularly work with clients employed in food service occupations, so we understand the special risks that lurk in restaurants, cafeterias, pizzerias, lounges, and similar locales.

We understand what you do, and we speak your language. Unlike many law firms, we don’t try to confuse you with legal terms just to impress you. An essential part of our job is helping you understand, in plain English, where you stand at each step along the way.

If you are a central Pennsylvania food server, caterer, bartender, food delivery agent, or other food service employee who has suffered an injury on the job, you deserve the full protection from workers’ compensation. Call Schmidt Kramer today at (717) 888-8888 toll-free if you have questions or if you believe you’re not receiving the benefits you are due. Just for calling, we’d be happy to send you a FREE copy of our client report, Who Pays the Bills When You Are Injured at Work?