Working as a waiter or waitress in the hospitality industry can be a fast-paced, stressful job that requires a lot of energy. Whilst you’re rushing from A to B, in and out of the kitchen, serving hot food and drinks to customers, you are at risk of being injured in an accident, which could happen at any time. And whilst you do take some responsibility for your own safety at work, your employer is ultimately responsible for ensuring that you are safe whilst you are carrying out your duties. Accident Advice Helpline has helped hospitality industry staff to claim compensation for a wide range of different accidents and injuries since 2000, and here are the top 5 accident claims for a waiter or waitress.
1. Slips, trips and falls – are they really that common?
You may not be surprised to hear that slips, trips and falls are the most common types of accidents to happen in the hospitality industry and therefore the most common accident claims for a waiter or waitress. You could slip on a freshly cleaned floor, slip on food or drink which has been spilled and not yet cleaned up or trip over hazards in the kitchen or on the restaurant floor. In fact, slips, trips and falls account for over one-third of all major injuries in the hospitality industry, causing on average two fatalities per year. These types of accidents may not sound serious, but they could lead to injuries ranging from a sprained ankle or back injury to a dislocated shoulder, broken ankle or even a head injury, if you hit your head as you fall.
2. Scalds and burns – watch out for hot objects
From boiling water in the kitchen to serving hot food and drinks or handling hot dishes, there are plenty of hazards in the hospitality industry that could easily lead to scalds and burns, not to mention coffee machines, grills, ovens and fryers. No matter what type of hotel, pub or restaurant you work in, you are at risk of these types of injuries on a daily basis, and they can be serious. According to the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, good ways to reduce burns and scalds whilst working in hospitality include:
- Using trays or trolleys when serving hot liquids or plates
- Warning staff about hot plates and dishes
- Training workers in how to handle hot items
Training is key to preventing and reducing the risk of almost all accidents in the industry, and it’s up to your employer to ensure that you get the training you need to do your job safely.
3. Cuts, grazes and lacerations
Accident claims for a waiter or waitress often involve cuts and lacerations as you’re surrounded by sharp objects every day at work. Everything from an automatic can opener to a knife block has the potential to cause injury, and serious lacerations may require stitches or even surgery. You should report any accident, however minor to your employer, as they must record it in their accident book. For more serious accidents, they have a duty to report these to the appropriate enforcing authority under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR). This could come in handy if you later need to contact Accident Advice Helpline to make a personal injury claim.
4. Manual handling injuries
Heavy lifting in the stockroom isn’t unlikely when you work as waiter or waitress and you may also be moving objects that are awkward shapes and sizes. This could lead to accident claims for a waiter or waitress for back problems, muscle strain or even shoulder problems.
5. Skin conditions
When you are working in hospitality, food hygiene is of the utmost importance, which means you will be coming into contact with a range of hazardous chemicals used for cleaning on a daily basis. Ensuring you wear personal protective equipment (such as rubber gloves) when using bleach and other chemicals is important to protect your skin, as otherwise you run the risk of developing contact dermatitis or other skin conditions – you could even suffer chemical burns.
Preventing accidents in the hospitality industry
A case study by the HSE found a restaurant proprietor guilty of failing to control trip hazards in the workplace storeroom with hazards such as an untidy storeroom and electrical cables trailing over a step presenting a risk to staff. In this case, the proprietor was prosecuted under the Workplace Health Safety and Welfare Regulations 1992 and fined £1,000. If you think that your employer is breaching health and safety regulations, you could consider reporting them to the HSE, or if you have been injured in an accident at work and you are concerned about health and safety, you can contact the HSE to report your accident.
Many accident claims for a waiter or waitress can be prevented as there are things you can do to reduce your risk of an injury at work; in fact HSE recommends wearing sensible, well-fitting shoes with clean soles and a good grip, in order to prevent slips and trips in the industry. But you can also be more aware of your surroundings and report anything you notice to your employer. For example, spillages should be cleaned up promptly, faulty equipment should be reported and repaired, and any unsafe practices should be noted, so that these can be changed in future, to reduce the risk of an accident happening.
Find out more about accident claims for a waiter or waitress
Accident Advice Helpline has handled hundreds of accident claims for a waiter or waitress who has been injured whilst working in the hospitality industry. You don’t need to have suffered a serious, life-changing injury, but if somebody else caused your accident, we can help. Whether you have broken your ankle after slipping on a spillage or suffered serious burns in the restaurant kitchen, you can get in touch with us within three years of your accident to find out more about making a no win no fee claim. It’s free to call us on 0800 689 5659 to see if you could make a claim, not only for you injuries but for any loss of earnings you have suffered as a result of taking time off work after your accident.