Restaurant workers in New York City are at a heightened risk of sustaining injuries on the job. This is partly due to a decline in restaurant jobs and an increase in city restaurants. According to Crain’s New York Business, nearly 6,000 restaurant jobs were lost in 2018.
The number of operating restaurants in the city increased from 24,865 in 2017 to more than 27,000 this year. More restaurants and fewer workers can put additional strain on those who are currently employed in the industry.
Five common retail and restaurant injuries are slips and falls, hand strains and breaks, cuts and burns, harm to the back and machine-related wounds.
The responsibility lies with employers to identify and eliminate potential hazards, train workers to reduce risks, provide safety gear and maximize productivity all around, according to concentra.com, a division of health care company Select Medical.
Slips, trips, and falls
Since 2011, fatal work injuries from falls, slips or trips have increased by 25 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor.
Thousands of slips, trips and falls occur every year because of slick and wet surfaces. Kitchen floors are a danger for restaurant staff like dishwashers, for example.
Employers can reduce such injuries by keeping floors dry, debris-free and monitored, and prompt cleaning of spills and placement of rubber mats can provide floor traction.
Repetitive hand injuries
Daily tasks can lead to chronic injuries. Discomfort, pain, swelling and impaired movement can be the result. Retail workers continually loading and unloading inventory can face these risks.
A common repetitive hand injury is carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on the median nerve, which runs from your forearm through a passageway in your wrist (carpal tunnel) to your hand. Repetitive hand motions are one of the factors that can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, which can include numbness, tingling and weakness in the hand and fingers, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Employers should encourage workers to use proper lifting techniques to avoid strain on wrists, hands and fingers, and taking breaks to do stretching exercises is a way to avoid injuries.
Cuts and burns
Waitresses, waiters and kitchen staff in restaurants are exposed to heat and sharp objects, increasing the risk of injuries like cuts and burns.
In 2014, there were 94,670 cases of cuts, lacerations or punctures reported in workers in private industry and state and local government. The median number of days away from work prompted by the injury per worker was three, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Employers should make sure staff have access to reinforced gloves, burn guards and other protective gear.
Lower back injuries
Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work, costing billions of dollars annually in treatment and missed productivity, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Lower back pain is a problem in any business or industry. Injuries to the lower back can occur when employees use improper techniques lifting heavy boxes or objects, or if they’re reaching for heavy pots and pans or unloading garments from a delivery van.
Lower back injuries typically result from reoccurring movements over time rather than one occasion.
Employers should show workers the proper ways to lift and move objects and post informational posters about such techniques in areas where lifting occurs.
Other safety options can be used when it comes to avoiding lower back injuries. Employers can provide winches to relieve the hoisting strain on workers and back braces for employees assigned to continual transport of large objects.
Hydraulic presses, lathes, conveyors and freight elevators are among the large machinery used in industry. Serious injury can occur if such machines are used improperly or poorly maintained.
The key to avoiding injuries is to train workers to use the machinery properly and keep the equipment up-to-date and well-maintained because malfunctions are a threat to a workforce.
If you have been hurt in a workplace accident in New York City, you are eligible to seek workers’ compensation benefits. For help in dealing with cases of common retail and restaurant injuries, and with other workers’ compensation issues, contact Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano LLP Attorneys at Law.