In addition to the standard risks of running a business, the restaurant industry presents a unique set of dangers that you need to be aware of. To prevent these dangers from causing an accident that could damage your business, it’s critical that you take the proper steps to insure your business against a wide variety of potential problems, from kitchen fires to slip-and-fall accidents. However, even with the proper insurance, the best solution is to avoid these accidents altogether. If you’re looking to make your restaurant safer, here are some things to pay extra attention to.
Let’s start with the big one: slip-and-fall accidents are the number one cause of injury in restaurants, and can be very costly if you’re not prepared. If a patron is injured, restaurants can expect to pay around $50,000 to defend a single lawsuit (and even more if you lose). To reduce the likelihood of these accidents, repair any uneven or cracked parts of your restaurant’s floor or stairs, and keep the building’s sidewalk and parking lot in good condition.
In addition to patron accidents, it’s important to keep your employees safe as well. Total compensation for employee slip-and-fall accidents is approximately $70 billion each year, and that’s a number you don’t want to be a part of. Make sure that your servers and other employees have walkways that are clear and unobstructed, and never store goods in areas where they might present a trip/fall hazard.
For workers who regularly carry or move heavy loads, train them how to do so properly while reducing their risk for physical injury. Sprains, strains and tears made up 38 percent of injury and illness cases requiring time off in 2011, and more than half of those were caused by heavy lifting or back injuries.
Deliveries and Driving
If you employ delivery drivers or valets, your business could be held accountable if one of them causes an accident. Before hiring any drivers, it’s critical to perform thorough background checks on their driving record to make sure you can trust their skills behind the wheel.
If your restaurant serves alcohol, you could be liable for damages your patrons cause as a result of their intoxication. Because you can’t control your patrons’ actions after they leave your restaurant, it’s essential to carry liquor liability insurance. Some states require all restaurants to carry a liquor liability policy; if yours isn’t one of them, you should consider purchasing one regardless.
In the Kitchen
One of the most common dangers is a kitchen fire, In fact, fully 87 percent of confined fires in restaurants start there. In addition to the damage they cause, kitchen fires can completely shut down operations, leading to significant revenue loss while the damage is repaired.
The good news, though, is that many fires are completely avoidable. For example, our research shows that nearly one in four unconfined restaurant fires is caused by dirty or misused kitchen equipment. Train your kitchen staff to maintain and properly use every piece of equipment in the kitchen to reduce your risk of fire.
Additionally, making sure your restaurant is equipped with systems to limit the potential damage of a fire is critical. Shockingly, more than half of reported restaurant fires occur in restaurants without fire extinguishing systems, or even working smoke alarms.
Keeping Your Restaurant Safe
The restaurant business does present some unique safety challenges, but with the right preparation many of them are surprisingly avoidable. While these tips won’t eliminate the possibility of an accident at your restaurant, following them will go a long way to reducing your risk.
William Hughes is assistant v.p. of commercial lines for the Arbella Insurance Group of Quincy, MA, a customer-focused regional property and casualty insurance company.