5 Common Injuries in Retail and Restaurant Industries

By Michael Galvan | 05/06/2016

Employers know their greatest asset is their employees. An engaged and productive team is critical to the success of any organization. This is especially critical for employers in the service industry, whether your business is a thriving restaurant or a contemporary retail store. And when your employees are part of your commodities, an employee injury can present huge hurdles.

To keep your business operating at peak efficiency, it’s imperative to identify potential safety hazards, and implement procedures that reduce risks and maximize productivity. The best way to do this is to be aware of some common occupational injuries are and how they occur. 

Slips, Trips, and Falls

Don’t overlook this common pitfall. Slick and wet surfaces are responsible for thousands of injuries every year. According to OSHA this category of incidents is responsible the majority of industrial accidents and 15% of all accidental deaths.1  For restaurant workers this is a common hazard in kitchen areas, where spills and wet surfaces may be present. Dishwashers and servers are highly prone to skips and falls in these areas.

The keys to preventing these injuries are to make sure that all interior floors are dry, free of debris, and consistently monitored. If a spill happens, be sure to clear it immediately to prevent falls. The addition of rubber mats in wet areas can also help to provide more traction. These small changes can prevent deadly accidents.

Repetitive Hand Injuries

Over time, certain daily tasks can lead to chronic injuries. These types of conditions can cause discomfort, pain, swelling, and impaired movement. For employees who work in retail, many times spent loading and unloading inventory, can lead to these conditions in their hands.

One of the most common repetitive hand injuries is carpal tunnel syndrome. This occurs when the median nerve in the wrist is constantly compressed. Trigger finger is also common. Trigger finger is when a finger gets stuck in one position due to inflation. For employees who may spend a large amount of time opening boxes and processing inventory, these types of injuries are not uncommon. Employers should encourage their employees to use proper techniques when working that avoid unnecessary strain on the wrists, fingers, and hands. Stretch breaks are another effective solution for reducing these problems. 

Cuts and burns

For employees in the restaurant industry, exposure to heat and kitchen tools is a daily occurrence, which also increases the risk for serious injuries like cuts and burns. For kitchen staff is especially important for employees to have access to protective gear to reduce the risk of an on-the-job injury. Many experienced cooks and wait staff can tell many stories of serious burns and cuts that they suffered on-the-job, but by making protective gear available like reinforced gloves and burn guards will help to decrease the risk and protect your employees. 

Lower Back Injuries

Most adults will experience back pain at some point in their life. Back pain can have many causes but the big concern for employers is lower back injuries. These injuries occur when employees are using improper lifting techniques and/or dealing with heavy objects. This can happen whether reaching for heavy pots and pans or unloading garments from the back of a delivery van.

Employers should demonstrate to employees the proper way to move objects and place informational posters around the areas where lifting occurs. Some employers may also want to consider purchasing equipment that relives the strain from employees, like winches. Back braces are another common option for people the continually transport large objects. 

Machine-Related Injuries

Many jobs within retail or restaurant areas use large industrial machinery. These tools are big and have the potential to cause serious injury if not properly maintained. The best way to prevent injury is by training employees on the proper way to use these systems.

Keeping your equipment up to date and in good working condition is another way to reduce machine-related injuries. Malfunctioning equipment is dangerous and can present a real threat to your workforce.  


There are many more hazards that pose a threat to workers in the retail and restaurant industries, and Concentra can help you protect against them, and care for your employees in the event an injury occurs. Contact one of our workforce experts to help determine the proper solutions for your business and see if there are any gaps in your current workers’ compensation program.