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Top Dangers of Working in a Restaurant Kitchen

The often chaotic and stressful nature of restaurant kitchen or food service work presents a number of unique challenges and potential dangers to employees. When you combine sharp objects, hot items, and the fast pace of work during peak dining hours, then you’ve got a recipe for injury, particularly to inexperienced workers, but it happens to veteran kitchen workers as well.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the restaurant and food service injury sees nearly 200,000 injuries per year, resulting in approximately 9,000 days away from work by injured employees. For businesses, these injuries result in lost productivity, higher insurance premiums, and often costly out-of-pocket expenses. It’s not just a moral imperative to ensure that employees have a safe place to work, but it also makes sound business sense, as the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) estimates that businesses can save between $4-6 for every one dollar invested in safety programs or education.

Whether you are a restaurant owner or a kitchen employee, the most important element of reducing injuries is simply being aware of the top dangers associated with food and restaurant work.

Sprains and Strains

Wait staff and bussers are at a particularly high risk for back, neck, and shoulder strains due to assuming awkward postures while serving customers or clearing tables. Sometimes it can be due to heavy trays, long distances between the kitchen and tables, or simply poor technique that puts undue strain on arms, elbows, and so forth. Proper technique for carrying heavy or awkward items is crucial to avoiding injury, whether in the kitchen or on the floor of the restaurant.


The possibility to get burned while working in a kitchen is an ever-present danger, whether it is serving hot drinks, handling hot plates or pans, working with hot grease, cooking with flaming hot stove tops, or inadvertently touching hot pans that someone thought were cold. It is imperative that all employees are aware of the dangers posed by hot elements throughout the kitchen and that they are trained in basic first aid to respond to burn injuries.

Slips and Falls

The potential for slips and falls exist throughout many businesses, but they can be particularly common in restaurants due to spills, wet floors, a poorly placed non-skid mat, or simply moving fast through blind corners in a busy kitchen. Ensuring that the kitchen is free of clutter and that floors remain clean and dry is of utmost importance. Placing mirrors on blind corners can also reduce the chance of collisions between staff in the kitchen.

Cuts and Lacerations

Sharp knives and the potential for broken glass are the leading causes for cuts and lacerations among restaurant employees, but there also exists risks from other dangerous elements like commercial meat slicers which have caused employees to lose fingers. It is important that knives be kept sharpened and in good condition and all kitchen staff should be warned when things like knives have been newly sharpened. Additionally, staff should be trained on how to properly handle, store, and maintain sharp elements.

Restaurant Injuries

Restaurant work may be one of the most common jobs across the country but unfortunately that doesn’t mean that it is a job that is free of danger to employees. Business owners should ensure that their staff is properly trained to face these top dangers and restaurant workers should be aware of them to try and avoid them. But even the most careful of worker may one day find themselves badly injured while working in a kitchen. If that’s the case, you would be qualified for workers’ compensation and may also be entitled to other claims or damages. If you’ve suffered an on the job injury at a restaurant, you are well within your legal rights to speak to one of our experienced New York workplace accident attorneys at Greenberg & Stein.

After going over the details of your workplace accident, we will walk you step-by-step through the process and ensure that you hold all legally responsible parties accountable for your injury, and we will fight to ensure you reserve the compensation you deserve.

If you’ve been injured while working in the kitchen, speak to one of our workplace accident attorneys here at Greenberg & Stein right away to discuss whether your case might qualify for additional compensation. Call us today at 888-411-3966 to schedule your free consultation.