5 Health and Safety Basics for the Retail and Restaurant Industry

By Michael Galvan | 06/03/2016

Keeping your employees healthy and safe should always be a top priority for any business. Fortunately, in the past few years’ health and safety basics have been developed which can help prevent your employees from injury. On-the-job injuries can cost your business a lot of time, money and effort when dealing with a workers’ compensation claim. However, most on-the-job injuries can be prevented with some inexpensive health and safety basics that can save you and your employees’ time and money. 

Protective gloves 

Hand injuries are one of the most common injuries when it comes to workers’ compensation. The hands are the most susceptible to cuts and burns because they are the most exposed in various working conditions. Employees require their hands for almost all tasks so it’s important to keep them protected. 

Hands are easy to keep safe with the help of protective gloves. Cut-resistant gloves can protect the hands from direct contact with anything sharp, such as knives or machinery with blades and sharp edges. Many gloves also have the ability to protect hands from extreme temperatures and even harmful chemicals. Some of the newest glove designs no longer take away from functionality, allowing employees to complete all the same tasks they would normally as if they weren’t wearing gloves at all.   

Low-temperature dishwashers 

Many employees believe that you can only receive burn injuries by physically touching flames or other hot surfaces, but this is not the case. A large portion of burn injuries are actually the result of coming into contact with steam. Proper safety training can help to prevent injuries from steam, but so can proper equipment. 

For restaurants with a high-turn rate, low-temperature dishwashers that prevent the production of steam can help to increase productivity while reducing employee risk. These dishwashers allow your employees to immediately start unloading and reloading the dishwasher without having to wait for the steam to subside, and use far less chemical detergent, helping to eliminate the potential for chemical burns. These new basics also require less energy to run, helping to further reduce electricity costs for employers and owners. 

Slip-resistant shoes and flooring

Slips and falls are common injuries that can range from minor to major and even have the potential to be life-threatening. Slips and falls can be the product of poor cleaning habits, insufficient footwear or just simple slippery flooring. For retailers, this could also be a potential hazard for customers who may be tracking in water from outside the store – creating the perfect scenario for a liability claim. 

Luckily, new non-slip floor mats come in a variety of colors and designs, helping to absorb any moisture that could be tracked across flooring, while also adding to the interior decor. These mats can prevent slips and falls even when wearing basic footwear. For employees that may encounter wet areas, slip-resistant shoes are highly recommended to help create additional traction between the footwear and the flooring. Most rubber-soled shoes can help to increase traction and reduce the risk of slips and falls. These are two very simple solutions that can keep both your employees and your customers safe. 

Stepladders

For most humans there are some heights that are unreachable due to height limitations. For those hard-to-reach high places, the safest procedure is to use a step ladder, especially when lifting heavy objects. Improper stretching alone has the potential for injury, but the risk of injury increases dramatically when also lifting heavy items. Not only can an employee become injured from the activity of lifting heavy items, but if the item is not properly put away, it could fall back down on top of your employee. A step ladder can help to provide support and ensure items that are placed on high shelves are done so properly, and unlikely to fall off shelving. A simple step ladder can be an inexpensive purchase that, when used properly, can provide support and assistance to employees of all heights, and reduce the risk of falls or strains. 

Lifting belts 

For employees who may spend a significant amount of time in loading docks, store rooms, unloading inventory, or handling heavy equipment, lifting belts are a popular way to prevent lower back injuries. The idea behind lifting belts is to reduce the internal forces put on the spine when lifting heavy objects. The belt has the ability to help keep the spine stiff and restrict bending motions of the spine, ultimately reducing the chance for injury. There are also mental benefits of a lifting belt to remind the employee to use proper lifting form.  Proper sizing and selection is important, because lifting belts come in a variety shapes, sizes and materials to fit your employees and their specific needs based on body type.

Conclusion  

The basics above are only a few of the ways that you can keep your employees safe from injury. There is nothing worse than dealing with a workers’ compensation claim knowing that it could have been prevented with a simple piece of safety equipment. To learn more about what you can be doing to keep your employees safe and other health and safety basics talk to a program expert.  

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