Restaurant Safety: Preventing Slips and Falls for Both Employees and Patrons


Restaurant safety isn’t usually something a lot of business owners spend a lot of time on. Why not? Because it’s assumed that people understand common sense, and that that’s all that’s needed to prevent accidents. Sometimes, business owners let safety training slip or they just don’t understand what they need to do to protect themselves and their guests.

Clean Up Spills Immediately

If someone – even a guest – spills something on the floor, clean it up immediately. Guests will sometimes spill water. Your waiter or waitress’s job is to protect the business by cleaning up the mess. If one guest spills something, and another guest slips and falls, the liability will fall on you, the owner.

Cleaning up water and other liquids that spill (think soup on those oversized trays, or coffee), could end up saving you thousands of dollars every year.

Use Signs When There Are Spills

Extensive signage usage is a good idea when it comes to cleaning up spills. Even after a spill is wiped up, there’s often a wet area that needs time to dry, especially if a mop is used. Train your employees on how to set up these types of signs.

Some of them are “exploding pyramid signs” that are spring-loaded and unfold automatically when you remove them from a protective sleeve. Others are of the “ladder” design that are opened up and stand on two legs.

Learn more about the potential liability risks you face for not using proper signage.

Rearrange Your Dining Area

Your dining area can, itself, be a fall risk. If you place chairs too close to each other, or if the tables and chairs have a design that makes them especially dangerous for customers, consider replacing the dining furniture or rearranging your dining room.

Configurations that tend to work well include indoor-outdoor seating that doesn’t cause cramping in the dining room. Other configurations that may work well are super-structured dining room arrangements with strictly defined spaces for all tables and chairs. Keeping patrons at least 3 feet away from each other when chairs are pushed out (so that people can get up out of their chair) will help minimize the risk that people will bump into each other or accidentally knock each other over.

If you serve a senior crowd, you may want to have additional space.

Many restaurateurs believe that maximizing space is key to keeping their restaurant open. The reality is that turning out good food, and charging a fair price (fair for both you and the customer) as well as maintaining strict portion control is the key to running a good business.

Keep A Clean Kitchen

A clean kitchen is underrated, as professional restaurateur Gordon Ramsey proved over and over on his famous show Kitchen Nightmares. In both the UK and U.S. version, Ramsey showed us every week that even top-notch chefs around the country aren’t immune from keeping a dirty cooking area.

Spend time organizing your kitchen, and off the produce, meat, and other food in there. Label everything. Clean out your cooler and throw away everything without an expiration date. As a matter of fact, it might be helpful if you throw everything away, clean the entire kitchen, hire an exterminator, and then restock.

Is it expensive? You bet. But, a lawsuit is even more expensive, especially if your employees slip and fall, or trip, over boxes, a stray piece of slimy lettuce on the floor, dish washing soap or water, or a produce crate.

Put down rubber anti-slip mats. Also, consider purchasing, or at least making available, anti-slip shoes. These are shoes with special rubber soles that are resistant to slipping. They’re made for restaurant workers and people who work in and around a kitchen or some other setting where slipping is a common problem or a risk.

Finally, mark off areas of your kitchen to avoid “traffic jams.” This will not only keep people in designated areas when they’re cooking and cleaning, improving workflow, it will also reduce the risk of slipping and falling back in the kitchen.

Keep Your Parking Lot And Sidewalks Clean

If you own the parking lot and sidewalks leading up to your restaurant, make sure you keep them clean. During the winter months this means de-icing them and shoveling. During the fall, it means raking or blowing any leaves away, clearing rocks or pebbles from the road that may have blown or rolled onto the sidewalk or road, and making sure that walkways and the parking lot are clearly marked and that customers have a clear path for getting from their vehicle to your door.

Laurence P. Banville, Esq a founder at Banville Law has seen his share of slip and fall cases in his day. A dedicated personal injury lawyer, he hopes his articles will help people avoid accidents.

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