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Slip and Fall Hazards in the Commercial Kitchen

Slip and Fall Hazards in the Commercial Kitchen

Grease and water on the dish room floor or a mat with an upturned corner are just a few of the slip and fall hazards that commercial kitchen employees face every day. But managers and employees alike can minimize the risk through vigilance and proper cleaning practices. OSHA also has standards that employees must meet in order to protect restaurant employees and patrons from harm.

Potential Hazards

All restaurant employees face the danger of slipping and falling. Slips and falls can result in injury that will result in lost work hours and can negatively effect the restaurant’s safety reputation. OSHA recognizes the following conditions as hazards to restaurant employees that can result in slip and fall injuries:

  • Cluttered and slippery floors from oil, water or food in the cooking and dishwashing areas can cause falls.
  • Physical obstructions like improperly placed drain covers are especially hazardous to kitchen workers.
  • Employees that put away new inventory are subject to fall hazards because they cannot always see obstructions in their path. Weather conditions can also play a role for employees taking items off of a delivery truck.
  • Servers and bussers also face fall hazards when carrying trays or stacks of plates around blind corners or through single entry doors to the kitchen.
What Employees Can Do to Protect Themselves

There are several recommendations that commercial kitchen employees can follow in order to protect themselves from falling.

  • Wear non-slip, waterproof shoes to decrease the chances of slipping.
  • Clean up any spill immediately.
  • Do not run in the restaurant.
  • Properly store all products and supplies to eliminate clutter.
  • Be aware of outside weather conditions and dress appropriately when unloading supplies.
  • Apply de-icing products to exterior walkways and entryways to protect both employees and customers.
  • When carrying stacked items, employees should be able to see over the stack to clearly navigate to their destination.
  • Be sure that rugs and mats are in their proper places and that all corners or edges lay flat.
  • Do not overfill bus tubs, since items may fall out and cause a trip hazard.
What Employers Can Do to Protect Employees

It is the restaurant owner’s responsibility to provide a safe, injury-free environment for employees and customers. Though accidents do happen, there are several initiatives employers can take in order to reduce the risk of slip and fall injury in the commercial kitchen.

  • Provide two double swing doors with windows on kitchen entrances to assure those exiting and entering the kitchen can see what is on the other side.
  • Provide floor or ceiling outlets to plug in equipment so power cords do not run along walkways. But make sure floor plugs are not in areas where water on the floor is common, since this could cause electrocution.
  • Stretch or re-lay any carpet that is bulging or bunched-up to eliminate a tripping hazard.
  • Use non-slip floor mats or non-skid floor waxes on surfaces where water or oil may be spilled.
  • Provide adequate floor drainage in wet areas.
  • Place convex mirrors at blind corners.
  • Provide adequate lighting in all kitchen and cooking areas so employees can see where they are going.
  • Replace any drain covers that are loose or broken.
  • Require employees to purchase non-slip restaurant shoes to assure adequate footing on wet surfaces.
  • Keep walkways and entryways clear of clutter and make sure they are wide enough so people traveling in opposite directions do not bump into one another or have to turn aside.
OSHA Standards

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration develops and enforces standards designed to keep all business environments safe for both employees and customers. OSHA has specific standards to eliminate slip and fall hazards in any business, including commercial kitchens. Any restaurant that does not comply can face harsh penalties.

The following OSHA standards are designed to eliminate slip and fall hazards:1

  • Standard 1910.22(a)(1). This standard requires that all places of employment be kept clean, orderly and in a sanitary condition.
  • Standard 1910.22(a)(2). All floors must be kept clean and dry. Where water spills are a concern, floor drains, false floors, platforms, mats or other dry standing places must be provided.
  • Standard 1910.145(c)(2). Warning signs for wet floor areas must be provided.

1 Occupational Safety and Health Administration, “Youth Worker Restaurant Safety,” http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/youth/restaurant/index.html (accessed November 4, 2008).