The highest priority when considering opening your own restaurant, or if you currently own one, probably isn't having a safety manual. There are day to day things like planning the menu, making sure all employees show up to work their shift, and providing customers with the best dining experience, that take precedence. However, to be in compliance with the United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (better known as OSHA), every restaurant must have a workplace safety manual. Your restaurant can face serious fines and even be shut down if OSHA standards are not met. The health and safety of your employees and customers should be top priority, and having a safety manual can help you make it be.
Why an Operations Manual is Not Enough
Most business have some type of operations manual. Operations manuals may cover everything from how the business operates on a day to day basis, what types of services are offered, food safety, how employees are compensated, and everything in between. Even if a businesses operations manual touches on safety, it probably doesn't cover everything that OSHA requires a service business to address. An operations manual might only be available to management as a guide for running the business. A safety manual is provided to each employee, or at least made available on site for employees to review.
Why Do Restaurants Need Safety Manuals?
Most people think of construction, manual labor, or blue collar type industries needing safety manuals. After all, these industries carry a high risk of injury because of the type of work that is done. A restaurant may not seem like a dangerous place to work, but there are hidden hazards that can make the job a safety risk. OSHA recognizes these risks and has specific guidelines for the restaurant industry. Restaurants must comply with these standards and have a workplace safety manual that addresses all areas of risk.
What are Restaurant Safety Concerns?
One of the biggest safety hazards in restaurant work are slip and fall injuries. The floors around sinks and dishwashers can become wet very easily. Wet floors can lead to slips and falls. In order to prevent this, OSHA requires restaurants to have either floor drains, non-skid mats, platforms or false floors that easily allow water drainage. A safety manual would need to address how a restaurant would plan to keep the floors dry and accident free. This might also include how spills are handled in the restaurant and bar areas.
Another major hazard in restaurants is the risk of burns. With ovens, stoves, hot plates, and burners, boiling water, hot pans and dishes, often in small areas with many people, burn injuries can happen. A safety manual would need to address how the flow of service would go in the kitchen to keep people away from hot items, as well as how injuries would be treated. Having fire extinguishers in the kitchen as well as access to cold water, eye wash stations, or showers is a must.
A third area of concern is safe passage. If there are stairs, steps, or platforms, railings must be installed. Aisles and walkways must be clear of clutter and debris. A safety manual would have to address how a restaurant will keep the walkways in all storage areas, the kitchen, dining room, restrooms, and bar area clear. Clear plans for putting away deliveries, removing extra chairs, seating people properly to not have chairs in aisles should all be addressed.
Where to Start
Creating a restaurant safety manual doesn't have to be a daunting task. There are companies like workplacesafetymanual.com that have industry specific safety manuals designed to meet OSHA standards already prepared. You can customize the manual to meet your specific restaurant needs without starting from scratch, saving yourself valuable time to do the things that are important to you in your restaurant business, while keeping everyone safe.