We already know that front of house restaurant work can be stressful. Dealing with rude and demanding customers every day can be psychologically draining. But the problems don’t end with mental stress. There are also several physical hazards that threaten servers and bartenders. Here, we’ll list some of them and discuss ways to deal with them.
Slip and fall accidents are the leading cause of injury in restaurants. Food and drink is often spilled, and may not be cleaned up immediately. Add this to the fact that servers and bartenders are often rushing around to keep their customers happy, and you have a huge opportunity for accidents. Employers are required by law to keep the workplace safe, but even something as small as a piece of ice, which is easy to miss, can cause a slip and fall. To help prevent injury, you should always wear shoes with good gripping soles. Regular athletic shoes will not be sufficient. You will need to purchase specialized work shoes to ensure safety.
Spending hours on your feet can lead to these painful and unsightly veins in your legs and feet. They occur most often in women with a hereditary predisposition for them, but anyone who stands all day can develop them. If you’re prone to them, or if you start to get them, you can purchase special support hose or socks that can help. Even regular panty hose can provide support for your veins and prevent the pain and swelling associated with varicose veins.
Hot plates, heat lamps, fryers, and grills can all cause burns to servers and bartenders. Even though you aren’t a cook or chef, you could still end up in the kitchen if you need to get something from the back or speak to a back of house employee. Wearing sure-grip shoes can help prevent some burns, since many occur when an employee slips and falls into a hot appliance. In addition, you should always test the temperature of any plate you pick up. Use a mitt to grab anything that is too hot. And always be aware of the area around you. Be especially careful around heat lamps and open flames.
Repetitive Stress Injury
Servers and bartenders are surprisingly prone to getting carpal tunnel syndrome, which we often associate with office workers. In restaurant workers, this injury typically results from carrying trays that are too heavy. If you’ve alerted your employer to a problem with heavy trays, and they have done nothing about it, then you may need to contact your local workplace safety authority (OSHA in the United States). Your employer could actually be forced to allow staff to use pushcarts or carry lighter loads by this agency.
These are just a few of the potential physical hazards that affect servers and bartenders on the job. There are many others, including back problems, cuts, and problems with hearing due to noise levels. Should you have any concerns about unsafe conditions at work, always speak to your manager and supervisor. If they don’t address the problem, contact OSHA or your local office of workplace safety.