Turnover in the foodservice industry has topped 70% for the last two years.1 This percentage is impacted by a lot of factors, but one key one is workplace safety. A recent survey showed workplace safety is one of the top factors candidates consider when looking for a new job.2
If you want to establish a strong workplace culture, you need to have a safe facility. Here are some steps that staff and business owners alike can take to make sure everyone is safe at work - from customers all the way up the chain.
In this article, we will give you some advice in these 12 areas:
Safe Facilities for Your Staff and Customers
Working in the food service industry involves handling food and ensuring that it is safe for consumption. This means that facilities that handle and prepare food must be clean and safe for the staff to work in. A safe facility is not just crucial for the well-being of the staff; it also ensures that the food is safe for customers to eat.
Here are some tips to ensure your facility is as safe (and productive) as possible.
Recognize Potential Hazards
The foodservice industry is fast-paced and dynamic, which means there are many potential hazards to consider. From sharp equipment to wet floors, hazards can exist in many forms. However, by recognizing these potential hazards early on, you can take steps to ensure a safe working environment for everyone.
Some of the most common hazards are as follows:
In every food service operation, equipment hazards exist. These hazards can range from simple cuts and burns to more severe injuries. Workers may slip and fall on wet floors, or hot oil may spill from a fryer.
To prevent equipment hazards, always make sure that staff are trained in the proper use of equipment, and that all equipment is well-maintained. Make sure that your team wears appropriate gear when using equipment, and that protective covers are in place.
Fire hazards may arise in a food service operation due to a number of factors, including electrical faults, gas leaks, or overheating equipment.
To minimize fire hazards, make sure that all equipment is properly maintained and that everyone on your team knows how to use fire extinguishers.
Ensure that all fire exits are clearly marked and that staff know the emergency evacuation plan. Regularly check smoke detectors and have your facility serviced by a licensed professional. Finally, make sure everyone on your team knows how to react in an emergency and have a plan in place to evacuate both customers and staff if necessary.
Slip and Fall Hazards
Slip and fall hazards are among the most common accidents in food service environments. These hazards can result from wet or slippery surfaces, loose electrical cords, cluttered walkways, or uneven flooring.
To prevent these hazards, make sure that all surfaces are kept clean, dry, and free of debris.
Make sure that staff regularly check for hazards and address them immediately. Ensure that entrances and exits are well-lit and clearly marked so that customers and staff can navigate them safely.
Food Safety Hazards
Food safety hazards are a constant concern in any food service operation. These hazards can result from improper food handling, unsafe food storage, or contaminated equipment.
To ensure that your facility maintains optimal food safety standards, ensure that everyone on your team is trained in food safety best practices.
Make sure that all food is stored and handled safely and that all equipment is properly cleaned and sanitized. Regularly check that all food equipment is working correctly and that there are no safety concerns.
Electrical hazards are common in any food service operation. These hazards may arise from improper maintenance or the use of faulty or outdated equipment.
To minimize these hazards, ensure that all electrical equipment is well-maintained and that everyone on staff is trained in their proper use. Regularly inspect all electrical equipment and replace any worn or outdated equipment.
Finally, ensure that all staff know how to properly shut off electrical equipment in the event of an emergency.
Learn (and Follow) the Rules
One of the most critical steps in ensuring safety at your facility is to learn and follow all applicable rules and regulations.
These rules and regulations may include local health and safety codes, food safety guidelines, and regulations related to equipment, ventilation, and fire safety. You must educate yourself and your staff on all applicable rules and regulations, and ensure that they are followed at all times.
Make sure that all safety equipment is in working order, including fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and ventilation hoods. Conduct regular safety training sessions to ensure that your team is also aware of safety rules and procedures.
Participate in Regular Inspections
Regular inspections are another crucial element of ensuring a safe facility. You can opt for third-party inspections, or you can conduct your inspections, depending on your preferences and budget.
These inspections allow you to detect potential safety issues, identify areas for improvement, and take corrective actions before they turn into hazards. Inspections also help you to comply with the rules and regulations, which is essential to avoid penalties and legal liabilities.
During inspections, check for food storage, cleaning processes, ventilation, and water quality.
Accidents can happen even in the best of environments. Having comprehensive insurance for your food service facility is essential.
If you're a business owner, you can invest in liability insurance, property insurance, and worker's compensation insurance to safeguard your business. Liability insurance can protect your business against legal liabilities resulting from injuries, illness, or property damage that may occur in your facility.
Property insurance can provide coverage for your physical assets, such as your building, equipment, and inventory.
Worker's compensation insurance will provide financial support to your team in case of work-related injuries or illnesses. It's required by law in many places.
Equipment Selection and Installation
Food service facility safety starts with selecting the right equipment and installing it appropriately.
Make sure that the equipment has safety features like automatic shut-offs, guards, and safety switches. All equipment should have specified installation requirements from the manufacturer. Follow those guidelines to ensure that the equipment operates safely.
Put Up Signage and Provide Training Manuals
Signage serves as a reminder to everyone to maintain safety standards. Display safety signs in the appropriate locations, such as "Wet Floor," "No Smoking," and "Danger High Voltage."
You may also have signs reminding staff to wash their hands or letting customers know not to walk into the kitchen.
Training manuals are also essential in safety practices. Provide manuals to your team and update them regularly. New staff should undergo safety training before being assigned duties.
Practice Good Pest Management Habits
It may seem obvious, but food service facilities should always work to maintain a pest-free environment. Pests can contaminate food and lead to health hazards.
To prevent pests, ensure that the facility is regularly cleaned and all waste disposed of appropriately. Proper storage of food and chemicals is also essential. If pest infestations occur, hire professional pest control services.
Monitor Food Preparation Areas
Sharp objects like knives and slicers may cause injuries during food preparation. Ensure that your team uses the correct knives and other sharp objects for the job.
Follow safety procedures such as wearing hand gloves or using safety guards to prevent injuries. Proper storage systems for sharp objects are also crucial.
Have a Smart, Strategic Design
A smart and strategic layout can not only improve functionality but can also enhance the safety of your customers and staff.
Lighting is a key factor in preventing accidents and ensuring cleanliness, while soundproofing can help to reduce noise levels and improve the ambiance of your establishment.3 Soundproofing can also help to prevent potential hazards related to noise and hearing loss.
Don't Be Afraid to Ask Questions and Listen to Feedback
Safety is a collective responsibility. Encourage staff and coworkers to ask questions if they are unsure of safety procedures.
Also, listen to their feedback on how to improve safety procedures. Doing these regular safety audits (even if informally!) and inspections can identify safety gaps in the facility, which can be addressed promptly.
Have Systems and Plans for Dealing With Emergencies
Having an emergency plan in place is critical to protect both customers and staff. The plan should include contact information for emergency response teams, evacuation routes, and guidelines for your team to follow during an emergency.
It is equally important to have a map of the facility with exits and emergency equipment clearly labeled. In the event of a fire, for example, staff should be aware of where the fire extinguishers are located and how to use them safely.
Having a first aid kit onsite is a must-have for any food facility. In the event of an accident, quick access to medical supplies can save lives. First aid kits should always be kept stocked and readily available.
Everyone on staff should be trained on how to use the supplies in the kit and who to contact in the event of an emergency. It is also important to maintain regular inspections of first aid kits to ensure that all supplies are accounted for and up to date.
And finally, training your team is an essential component of emergency preparedness. Every employee should receive basic first aid and CPR training, as well as training on how to handle different types of emergency situations.
Your staff should be aware of the procedures to follow in case of a fire, a gas leak, or a medical emergency. It is not enough to just have emergency plans in place; each employee must also understand and be familiar with these plans. You can simulate emergency situations that can occur by conducting drills so that your team can be prepared for the real thing.
Provide Proper Training
As a foodservice professional, the safety and well-being of your customers and fellow workers should always be your top priority. One of the most effective ways to ensure this is through proper training.
Trust20 offers a comprehensive Food Handler Certificate training that covers everything from proper sanitation techniques to allergen management.
By completing this training, you and your team will not only be equipped to handle any situation that may arise, but they will also have the knowledge and skills necessary to create a safe and sanitary foodservice facility.
Don't leave the safety of your customers to chance! Make sure training is at the top of your to-do list.
Foster a Culture of Safety and Collaboration
Creating safe foodservice facilities is a top priority - not just for one person on your team, but for everyone. It requires an ongoing commitment from managers, vendors, and staff alike.
We're all in this together - and we all benefit from having safe facilities to work in.
1: U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS, Food Services and Drinking Places
2: BUSINESS WIRE, Workplace Safety Can Give Small Business Owners a Recruiting Edge, EMPLOYERS Survey Finds
3: POACHED, Soundproofing 101: How to Reduce Noise In Your Restaurant