Restaurant workers do very challenging work that can come with serious risks. For many of these workers, making minimum wage or just above is the norm. Even when they are working at a low-cost chain restaurant, all restaurant workers deserve to have a safe environment.
There are four types of injuries that are most common in this industry. All employers should ensure that they have put safeguards in place to help keep workers from suffering any of the following:
- Musculoskeletal injuries: Sprains and strains are common due to overexertion, slips or trips, overreaching or moving in an unnatural way. Often, these require you to rest the affected area, which can be hard at work.
- Lacerations: Glass, knives and kitchen equipment can lead to cuts or punctures. Minor injuries should be disinfected and covered. More serious injuries might require you to go to the hospital to get stitches and antibiotics. There is a risk of infection if the object you were cut by came into contact with things like raw meat or if it was a dirty dish.
- Eye injuries: Chemicals that splash around and other liquids that are common in this industry can hit the eye. If you are working with something that might splatter, wearing safety goggles is a good idea. Some eye injuries will require you to flush the eye out, and you might need to see an eye doctor.
- Burns: There are many things that can burn restaurant workers, including stoves, fryers and hot liquids. Around 12,000 cases of burns in the restaurant industry are reported annually, but this is likely on the lower end since minor injuries may not be reported. Some minor burns can be treated on-site but more serious ones require emergency medical care.
When workers are injured
If you work in a restaurant and have suffered an injury, seek medical care. Employers should be able to provide information about where you can seek care that will be covered under workers’ compensation. If you will have to remain off work for a while, the workers’ compensation program can provide partial wage replacement. Be sure that you read anything sent to you related to this. You might have to take certain actions.
If you don’t agree with a decision in the correspondence, you may have to appeal it. This requires you to follow strict time limits and processes so be sure you understand what you should do.