Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Safety leadership pivotal to managing your workers’ comp costs

By Stan Harris, LRA President & CEO, Former Restaurateur

The restaurant business is all about the people—your customers and your team. In my previous 25 year career as a multi-unit restaurant owner, my philosophy on workplace safety was holistic. Honing your observation skills is imperative. As the owner or manager of a business, if you want to make a difference in your workers’ compensation cost, make it part of your daily DNA. How does this become part of your daily routine? It’s easier than you think.

When you arrive at your place of business, walk around the parking and delivery areas. Is there broken concrete, curbs or bumper blocks that could be a trip or fall hazard? Is the exterior lighting in good working order? As you enter the door, if it is an exit door, is the EXIT sign properly illuminated? As you go to the cook line, look at the interior of the hood surfaces. Are they clean and free from dripping grease? Are the links in the fire suppression system covered with grease? Is the tag on the ANSUL system up to date? Are the handheld fire extinguishers in an accessible location that wouldn’t require you to be at the source of a fire to reach them?

Is your ceiling clean? Do the light fixtures or lamps have the proper covers or shields? Are the cords of the electrical appliances in good condition? Are the knobs and thermostats of the gas appliances installed and in working order? I know it sounds like a lot, but your powers of observation are important in monitoring the safety process.

Take a look at your dish station. Try to avoid a pre-soak tub that could have broken or chipped glass in it. Be sure to size your dish and glass racks to fit the appropriate glassware or serving items. This helps avoid chips and breakage while also helping to avoid cuts. Is the floor drain working properly to avoid a staff member having to work in standing water?

In the prep areas, do the employees wear cut resistant gloves when prepping lemons or chopping vegetables? Is the can opener cutting edge clean? Do you ensure that each time you access the ice machine bin, you use an air dried scoop?

As you enter the dining room are the floor surfaces clean? If you use dust control mats, are they laid out properly? Are the floor transitions as smooth as possible to minimize slip and falls? Does your staff pre-bus tables to avoid having to carry overloaded trays to the dish station? This will help avoid strains and sprains.

If you want to lower your mod factor and avail yourself of the most competitive rates for workers’ compensation, raising your observations during your walk through each day will help develop a culture of safety. As the owner or manager, if you embrace safety each and every day, so will your staff members. We have a number of tools that can help you better train your staff on the proper use of fire extinguishers, measure the grip of a floor surface, or help you create checklists to review each shift.

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