Many workers in Illinois, as well as millions of workers across the United States, are employed in the restaurant industry. According to the National Restaurant Association, the restaurant workforce represents 10 percent of the overall workforce in the country. Unfortunately, restaurants pose many injury risks to workers in this field. Specifically, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that injuries to restaurant workers account for nearly 6 percent of injuries to overall U.S. workers.
Restaurant workers perform a wide variety of functions in order to help this oftentimes fast-paced, highly demanding operation to succeed. Two of the most prominent categories of roles in the restaurant industry relate to workers who are charged with preparing food and those who are responsible for serving it to customers.
Preparing and serving food are risky
Preparing food exposes workers to several injury risks that commonly manifest themselves in the restaurant industry. One of the most devastating of those is the risk of a burn-related injury. Cooks constantly interface with appliances, some of which are extremely hot, such as deep fryers and stoves.
Serving food also exposes workers to multiple types of injury risk. While these workers may not be as exposed to burns or other cooking-related injuries, serving food in a high-paced restaurant environment presents hazards of its own. Lifting or balancing heavy trays, reaching and straining are all actions that must be repeated over and over during the course of a shift causing accumulating strain on vulnerable joints in the back and elsewhere. Additionally, slips and falls often result in workers hitting their head.
Common injury types
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the many hazards in the restaurant as a workplace most commonly translate into one of the following injury types:
- Repetitive motion injuries (such as strained backs or necks)
- Burn injuries (such as burns to the hands and arms)
- Broken bones (perhaps due to a slip-and-fall)
- Chemical exposures (given the prevalence of toxins and fumes)
In addition to these injury types, hearing loss, lacerations and overexertion injuries also put these workers at risk.
Restaurant workers who have sustained injuries during the course of employment will be facing employers and insurers who stand to lose significant sums if they must pay workers’ compensation claims. In order for a workers’ compensation case to be successful, there are administrative procedures that must be completed. A causal relationship between the workplace and the injury itself must also be established. In order to ensure that the strongest possible case is made for a claim, injured workers may wish to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney.