Friday, March 16, 2007

Stepping Into the Kitchen Foot Protection for Food Service Workers

Shoes and floors key to avoiding slips and falls in the kitchen ...

"Slips and falls account for almost half the workers' compensation costs in the food service industry. An effective and well-rounded foot protection program is the answer to bringing those numbers down.

A busy commerical kitchen – in a hotel, a fast food restaurant or the best restaurant in town – could be one of the most dangerous places to work. Slippery floors, knives and other sharp tools, hot surfaces, heavy pieces of moveable equipment, awkward food packages and congested quarters are all invitations for injuries. Add to that mix of dangers the rush of activity during lunch or dinnertime and there is a perfect recipe for a disastrous and costly accident.

Despite all the existing dangers in the kitchen, slips and falls are the leading hazards for restaurant and hospitality kitchens, accounting for 34 percent of all restaurant worker injury cases, according to a survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 1994, and slips and falls and other kitchen accidents account for the majority of workers’ compensation claims in the food service industry. According to the Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, falls account for 45 percent of workers’ compensation claim costs in restaurants, making foot protection a useful tool for safety professionals looking to reduce slips and falls.

The numbers are understated, says Steve DiPilla, director of research and development for risk control services for ESIS Inc., a Philadelphia-based provider of insurance products. One of the key issues with slips and falls is that they cause a host of back, knee, head, wrist and other musculoskeletal injuries that require long-term care. Therefore, accident rates are classified by injury type instead of cause of injury in workers’ compensation claims.

“If you look at a kitchen environment, a slip and fall can turn into a lot of things, such as a back injury, a bump in the head or even a fatal wound,” explains DiPilla. “Who knows how many slip-and-fall cases have actually happened."    (Continued via Occupational Hazards)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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