Running a restaurant brings many challenges. After all, restaurant owners must consistently deliver exceptional food and service, maintain a loyal customer base, and ensure employee safety. In addition, the restaurant business also carries a wide range of property and liability risks – both of which can contribute to costly injuries. This is why it is critical to have effective loss control measures in place. This resource summarizes common risks restaurant owners must address and includes helpful strategies they can use to prevent potential claims.
Fire prevention for restaurant operations
Because restaurants often rely on a variety of heat-producing appliances in their kitchens (eg, ovens, fryers, grills, and more), fire exposure is significant. Without appropriate mitigation measures and extinguishing systems in place, the consequences of a fire incident can be devastating – causing property damage and serious (or even fatal) injuries. As such, the following fire prevention protocols should be a top priority for restaurant owners:
- Consult with a fire protection company to determine the types of devices, alarms, extinguishers and sprinklers needed on the property.
- Use commercial grade range hoods that are fully capable of capturing grease-laden fumes.
- Have all kitchen hoods professionally cleaned on a routine basis. Depending on cooking operations and frequency, fans should either be cleaned every two years or quarterly, or as recommended by a cleaning staff.
- Install a suitable fire extinguishing system above all kitchen appliances that have the potential to generate flames.
- Keep the fire suppression system on a regular maintenance and inspection schedule.
- Keep class K fire extinguishers in the kitchen at all times. Note that using the wrong extinguisher during a kitchen fire can increase the spread of flames rather than reducing it.
- Provide employees with adequate training in how to safely use both the fire suppression system and fire extinguishers in the kitchen.
- Ensure fireproof barriers are placed between ignition sources – such as a burner – and flammable liquids – such as cooking oils from a deep fryer.
- Create a fire safety plan that outlines both prevention and evacuation strategies.
Serving delicious, high-quality food is critical to the success of any restaurant. That being said, poor food safety protocols can have detrimental effects ̵1; potentially resulting in unhappy customers, foodborne illness and wasted product due to contamination or spoilage. Furthermore, it can be extremely difficult for restaurants to recover from the reputational damage that often accompanies a food safety issue. To ensure appropriate food safety techniques, restaurant owners should therefore follow these guidelines:
- Train employees in safe food handling practices and how to avoid cross contamination issues when working with raw meat.
- Implement an effective food handling system to ensure that expired products are never used and always disposed of appropriately.
- Store food in fully sealed and properly labeled containers. Such labels should include the product name and expiration date.
- Organize products in a way that ensures that food nearing its expiration date is used before it spoils.
- Use adequate cleaning to keep the kitchen clean and organized at all times.
- Establish pest control procedures to prevent potential infestations.
- Keep refrigerators in good condition through regular inspections and maintenance. Make sure refrigerators are kept at the right temperature to avoid problems with food spoilage.
As with all employers, restaurant owners have a responsibility to protect their employees from illness and injury on the job. Especially when cooking, it is important to protect employees from kitchen hazards (eg, sharp objects, hazardous chemicals, and hot or slippery surfaces) to prevent potential incidents. With this in mind, restaurant owners should implement the following safety practices for employees:
- Provide employees with regular safety training. Important training topics should include cooking appliance safety, kitchen cleaning, and proper knife handling and storage.
- Educate employees about the dangers associated with chemicals in the workplace – namely cleaning chemicals. Emphasize what can happen if incompatible chemicals are mixed.
- Establish an in-depth training program for new hires. Require new staff to be mentored or supervised by experienced employees until they are fully competent in their roles and responsibilities.
- Always have a well-stocked first aid kit available to help in case of minor cuts or burns. Allow only trained employees to administer first aid.
- Install non-slip mats throughout the kitchen and other areas where walking surfaces may become wet or sticky.
In addition to creating a safe work environment, it is also important for restaurant owners to ensure that their properties are suitable for customers. Whether customers are dining in or ordering takeout, it only takes one mishap—like a slip and fall incident in the parking lot—to result in a costly accident lawsuit. To avoid such liability issues, restaurant owners should maintain these measures:
- Keep the parking lot in good condition through regular inspections and maintenance. Make it a priority to fix potholes, cracks and other slip or trip hazards as quickly as possible.
- Ensure adequate snow removal and de-icing protocols are in place throughout the property during the winter.
- Place waterproof mats at all property entrances to avoid slipping and tripping from excess moisture during adverse weather conditions (eg rain and snow).
- Train employees in proper waste management practices. Specifically, employees should be instructed to clean up spills immediately. Additionally, when cleaning up spills, employees should display clear signs warning passersby of potential hazards.
- Ensure that a sufficient number of smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms are installed throughout the property. Keep detectors and alarms on a routine inspection and maintenance schedule.
- Make sure all entrances and exits are properly marked and clear of obstructions. Signs that clearly describe emergency evacuation routes and procedures
We can help your restaurant business
It is important for restaurant owners to take the necessary risk management precautions to minimize costly insurance claims and lawsuits. Doing so can help ensure customer satisfaction, reduce liability issues, prevent property damage, and keep employees safe on the job.
While this resource offers several effective strategies for loss control, restaurant owners do not have to navigate their risk management programs alone. Working with a qualified and experienced insurance advisor can make a big difference.
We know the industry, we understand your needs and we work with several insurance companies so that we can deliver the insurance solution that is perfect for your business and your budget.
When you have confidence in your business insurance, you have greater peace of mind knowing that you can continue working to generate revenue, even when disaster strikes.
To get started with your customized solution, contact one of our licensed advisors, or request a proposal and we’ll get started right away.