Well, no truer words were ever spoken, but what does “Being Prepared” mean?
I have asked myself that question many times over. Let’s face it; running any type of retail business is far more complex than was 20 years ago, or 10 years ago and in most cases even 5 years ago.
Whenever I enter a quick service restaurant, convenience store, or a gas station/food store I’m amazed by the selections of immediate consumption items available to choose from. To successfully orchestrate a high-performing business operation like the above-mentioned businesses, you and your fellow team members should come to work not simply “prepared” but operating at 100% efficiency.
This is obviously, not an easy task! There are always a few obstacles to overcome: equipment problems, turnover, product shortages, etc. Unfortunately, this is when our family and friends end up injured in work-related accidents.
If you take a moment and think back to some of your very own injuries whether at home, driving or at work, they often occur when we are unprepared, hurried, tired or even overwhelmed by the circumstances that surround us.
Preparation is often the solution to avoiding these injuries.
There are five common types of injuries that occur most frequently in the restaurant environment:
- Cuts– Cuts are usually the most frequent injury in our business and are often caused by lack of preparation. For example, using scissors or knives to open bags and boxes when far safer tools are available are the result of many accidents. Just as we make progress in automation we also see safety solution providers working hard to make safer tools.
- Burns– I would probably guess that everyone who has ever made a meal for themselves or others has at one time or another burned themselves in the process. Again, this frequently occurs when the necessary preparations have not been taken, often it is the first job that any food preparation employee is assigned. Unfortunately, in the food service business frying oil is normally used at or near 350 degrees, thus making it one of the single most dangerous products in our daily food preparation. There are many other equally hot services like the grills, hot water holding wells, etc. These surfaces and equipment are often the reason why burns are usually neck and neck with cuts when it comes to the most frequent types of injuries we see in our businesses. A very critical task in working with these products is to have the right “safety solutions” available, this includes burn protection gloves, smocks, sleeve protection, eye protection and occasionally foot protection. Not only do they need to be available, but they must be convenient to the location of the job task. “Being prepared” means having clean, well-maintained equipment and using it.
- Strains– With strains, a new direction of action is needed. I know this type of injury personally after a recent medical operation to take a care of an injury caused by trying to lift something that I knew, when attempting it, I should not be doing. This lead to my first and only surgery of my life.I share this story with you because many of these strains lead to far more serious and long term medical care which results in by far the most expensive of injuries we have been describing throughout this article. We have an aging population within our food service industry despite all the new young people who have recently joined this industry. Preparing to move a heavy piece of equipment, tools, boxes, trash, etc. requires knowing how to lift heavy items needed to be stored at waist level. Organizing can almost be thought of as an art, because if you or someone on your staff can effectively organize your restaurant in such a way that heavy items are stored properly, you and your staff will be far less likely to suffer what often time develops into a lifelong injury. Preparation saves time and reduces injuries.
- & 5. Slips and Falls– Between the frequency being higher, and the severity being more costly, Slips and Falls should be one of your top priorities to ensure the safety of your employees and customers. Customer slip and falls usually make up nearly 80% of all the general liability litigation and therefore 80% of your cost as well. This liability usually begins the moment they step on to your property or location and extends throughout their visit until they walk or drive off your property. Preparation, is knowing that spills will occur and that they need to be cleaned up immediately. It is also staying informed on the weather forecast and the potential steps needed on those snowy or rainy days to ensure customers are safe. We have a duty to protect our customers!You and your team or fellow employees also have a duty to protect one another from these same slips and fall hazards. It starts everyday with preparing yourself for work by getting adequate rest, nutrition, needed medical prescriptions and staying alert to hazards that can exist on any given day both at home and work.
Remember, “You don’t get what you wish for; you get what you work for.”
Check out Mike Keeler’s post on Top 5 Things I learned While Working in Restaurant Safety here.
Mike Keeler, safety industry expert, has served as Head of Safety at Bloomin Brands, Inc, Global Safety Senior Leader at YUM! Brands, Inc. as well as Director of Security at Little Caesars Enterprises. He currently serves as CrewSafe’s POMM Partner of Brand Protection Strategies. For more information, please contact the CrewSafe team.