on the job injury prevention

10 Ways to Prevent Work Injuries in Retail and Restaurants

Eric Becker

An on-the-job injury may seem like an unlikely occurrence for you and your employees. The truth is, when your organization is diverse with different job roles and tasks, that means the potential for different types of injuries. An employee working up front at the cash register is going to have a very different work experience then an employee working out back in the loading dock, and you have to prepare for and protect both. 

The best way you can protect your employees is by addressing the biggest injury risks. For employers in the retail and restaurant industries, there are 10 key ways to prevent on-the-job injuries

1. Take safety precautions with equipment and tools 

Some of the most common work injuries involve cuts and lacerations or burns and scalds, and they can sometimes require medical attention and time off work. Fortunately, some of these injuries can be prevented with the appropriate safety equipment, such as gloves or goggles. In some cases, the appropriate footwear may even prevent an injury when in a warehouse or a slippery kitchen.

2. Conduct proper training for employees

The short amount of time that it takes to properly train your employees about appropriate techniques can save you a lot of money in the long run. Something as simple as adjusting the way they hold a knife or lift a box can prevent an injury and save your employee a trip to the ER department. It's also beneficial to provide visual safety reminders posted around your workplace close to potential danger areas. 

3. Pre-establish an injury care program

Hopefully an injury won’t happen on the job, but just in case one does occur you need to have a program or set of procedures already in place. This program acts like a trigger, so as soon as an injury occurs all the pieces fall into place. Not only should you have an established plan, the plan must also be communicated to your employees. This way if an injury does occur they know exactly what needs to be done to get the treatment they need and get back to work with as little complications as possible.

4. Allow employees the rest they need

Drowsiness and overworked employees contribute to a large amount of on-the-job injuries. There are busy times of the year when you need to squeeze out extra hours from your employees, but your employees need as much rest as possible to perform the job tasks to their full capability. That extra hour or two of productivity is not worth the cost of dealing with a workers' compensation claim. 

5. Keep all licenses up-to-date  

Whether your employees need licenses to handle food or liquor or to operate motorized machinery, you need to stay on top of who needs what and when it should be renewed. Each organization is unique and will require different licenses, so it's up to you to know what your organization needs. An on-the-job injury is already difficult enough to deal with, but if your employee gets injured and they didn’t have the license they needed to perform that task, you may have to engage with an entirely different set of issues. 

6.Give extra attention and training to young employees

Most teenagers look to the restaurant and retail industries to kick-start their professional careers, so the majority of your employees might be young and inexperienced in a working environment. This lack of experience in certain job roles can increase the chance of injury. Everything is new to them and they may not know the appropriate procedures to stay safe. To combat this, extra time and attention needs to be delegated to training the younger employees. You should also be aware of laws that prohibit those under a certain age from doing certain work.

7. Hire employees that fit the job requirements

Overexertion accidents account for a large portion of all claims. Every individual is different and has different capabilities based on body type, strength, and mobility levels. It should not be expected for two individuals of differing size and strength to handle the exact same workload. To protect your employees from overexertion injuries, you can arrange for a human performance evaluation (HPE) to be performed which measures how much their body can handle based on body functionality. This evaluation helps determine what job tasks they can handle without overexerting themselves. 

8. Prepare for instances of violence or force 

Although injuries from violence and force only account for a very small percent of all claims, you should still be prepared. Disputes with customers can turn violent and your employees should know how to defuse the situation or avoid it all together. These are unlikely occurrences, but your employees should still be trained on how to deal with these types of situations. In some violent situations such as an armed robbery where no one actually gets injured, a medical evaluation may still be necessary to help deal with post-traumatic stress. 

9. Don't cut corners and rush your employees 

Injuries can occur when employees start to cut corners and take short cuts because they feel pressured to get their work done quickly by management. Rushing through your workload can result in ignoring the proper safety protocols just to save a few minutes. It's important to let your employees know that you value their safety above all else and foster an understanding environment. In the long-run, you will save more money by keeping employees safe and productive than by cutting corners and risking an injury. Your productivity will certainly be impacted by injured employees who can perform at full capacity due to an injury. 

10. Communicate clearly and consistently with your workers

Finally, your business can’t be successful without clear and consistent communication. You have to communicate your injury care process and safety procedures to your employees. Your employees are the ones that know their work best and might have suggestions on how to better prevent injuries. Your organization may have the best procedures, plans, and equipment in place – but without the proper training and communication on how to use them, they might as well not exist. 


As a leader in occupational medicine, Concentra has worked with companies in many different industries to improve the health of their workforce and reduce the risk of on-the-job injuries. And should an injury occur, we can help care for your employees to return them to full function sooner, while helping to minimize the impact on your organization.

For more information on how we can help you and your business prepare for an on-the-job injuries before they occur, connect with one of our work health experts


*This document is an overview and does not constitute legal or medical advice.