How Severe Are Food Service Injuries?

How Severe Are Food Service Injuries?Working in the food service industry is rough work. For every ounce of creativity in placing interesting food combinations on the table, there are hours and hours of preparation and perspiration. Food service workers regularly deal with sizzling foods, boiling liquids, splattering oil, and intense flames. Reno is home to many great restaurants and many different cuisines, from elegant six-course meals to fast food to go. The common denominator is that every type of food service worker can be severely injured while doing their jobs.

According to Summit Holdings, common restaurant work injuries include:

  • Cuts, punctures, and other skin injuries. Common causes include equipment that doesn’t have the correct guards, using knives and other sharp objects, and not wearing quality gloves.
  • Slips and falls. Liquids often spill, making the floors slippery. Food and other objects can fall, creating an obstacle for servers and anyone in the kitchen. Uneven surfaces are dangerous because food service workers are watching their food or their plates; not looking at the floor.
  • Temperature-related injuries. These include thermal burns, frostbite from working with items in the freezer, and heat exhaustion when working outside. Grills, stoves, and ovens are too hot to touch. Steam can be dangerous. Hot beverages or hot plates can cause third-degree burns.
  • Being struck by an object. It’s a common occurrence in restaurants. Servers crashing into doors and other workers as one exits the kitchen and another enters. Items stored on shelves can fall on a food service worker. Close quarters often mean bumping into equipment.
  • Sprains and strains. Food servers, line cooks, and chefs regularly perform the same tasks, which can cause repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Standing all day long can cause muscle cramps and back problems. Moving refrigerators and other equipment can cause a hernia and other serious injuries.

In some instances, especially where alcohol is served, a customer may become violent.

Another common danger is that the food is unsafe. Food that isn’t properly cooked, is frozen again after it was defrosted, or contains bacteria or dangerous chemicals can cause infections and diseases. FoodDocs explains the three types of hazards:

  • “Physical hazards are inedible parts of food or any foreign materials that can significantly cause injury, choking, or cuts as a result of consumption.
  • Biological hazards consist of microorganisms such as harmful bacteria, mold, yeasts, viruses, and parasites that can contaminate food and cause foodborne illness when consumed.
  • Chemical hazards are naturally present or added substances that can cause significant harm to consumers when ingested or sometimes inhaled. “

Biological hazards that may cause significant foodborne illnesses include Salmonella, Listeria, E. Coli, Norovirus, Campylobacter, and Clostridium perfringens.

FoodDocs also notes in 2021, at least 6,384 lbs. of chicken tortilla soup were recalled for potential contamination. The business and local authorities reported that there was physical contamination with pieces of nitrile gloves. While no adverse health problems occurred, there were numerous complaints.

How can food service workers avoid injury on the job?

Safe workspaces start with owners and management. In order to keep workers safe, employers should provide training (especially regarding knife safety) and protective equipment, from mesh gloves to no-slip mats. They should ensure their floors are clean and free of debris in the front and the back of the house. Employers should also ensure that their workers know what to do in the event of a medical emergency, such as calling 9-1-1.

There are also precautions that workers can take to reduce the risk of the most common types of injuries.

  • To prevent punctures and cuts, employees should wear strong Kevlar or steel mesh gloves. Knives shouldn’t be left to soak in water because another worker may not know the knives are there. Workers should use the proper knife for the proper task. Trash cans should be marked so it’s clear which cans are for broken glass and sharp lids.
  • Preventing slip and fall accidents requires wiping up spills quickly, wearing slip-resistant shoes, using nonslip mats, and keeping the floors free of clutter.
  • To prevent burns, frostbite or heat exhaustion injuries, wait for hot items to cool, don’t reach over an open flame, wear protective gloves and clothing, drink lots of fluids, and avoid using water/ice in areas where there’s hot oil.
  • To prevent being struck by an object, store foods and materials properly, make sure outside workers can see at night, use two-way doors with windows – separated if possible, make sure tables and chairs are laid out to avoid bumping into them, and take precautions such as better lighting to reduce the likelihood of robberies.
  • Good work habits can help prevent strains. Lift with your legs, use tables and chairs that don’t have to be moved or positioned daily, ask for help to lift heavy items, use smaller trays, and consider other measures to avoid stretching and lifting to reach objects and to serve customers.

What are my rights if I’m injured while doing my food service job?

Many food service workers are under 30, according to Summit Holdings. Nearly 11.6 million people work in the food service industry. There are also laws that regulate the type of work that minors can do.

There are two types of claims injured food service workers in Nevada can file.

A workers’ compensation claim. A worker who is an employee, even if they’re a part-time employee, has the right to file a Nevada workers’ compensation claim. The main requirements to file the claim are that the accident must have occurred during the scope of your employment and you must promptly report any injury.

The benefits in workers’ compensation claims filed in Nevada include payment of all your medical bills to maximize your health and to keep your health from worsening. Injured workers are also entitled to temporary disability benefits while they are seeking medical help to improve their condition and permanent disability benefits if they have a qualifying injury. There is no requirement to prove the employer was negligent. But, keep in mind, many workers’ compensation claims are denied by the insurance companies and it is important to talk with a lawyer to ensure you don’t miss any important deadlines.

A personal injury claim. Non-employees or those not covered under workers’ compensation must file a personal injury claim. This type of claim requires that you show your employer was negligent. On the plus side, injured Reno food service workers can demand compensation for all their medical bills, all their income losses, and for pain and suffering.

Both employees and contractors can file product liability claims if defective equipment such as a defective stove or a defective water sprinkler system causes injuries or death.

At Claggett & Sykes Law Firm, our Reno workers’ compensation and personal injury attorneys understand that most food service workers live paycheck to paycheck. We have a strong record of insurance settlements and court verdicts that help injured workers return to good health and to financial stability. To assert your rights after any food service accident in Reno, call 775-322-2923  or contact us today to schedule a free consultation.