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Protecting Your Family-Style Restaurant and Employees with New York Workers Comp

May 17th, 2024 | 7 min read

By Daniel J. Middleton

Protecting your family-style restaurant and employees with New York workers comp

As a family-style restaurant owner in Central New York, you pour your heart and soul into your business, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for your customers. However, the fast-paced nature of the restaurant industry also means that your employees face a variety of risks every day. 

From slips and falls to burns and cuts, workplace injuries can happen in the blink of an eye, leaving you and your staff in a difficult position.

We understand that navigating the complex world of workers compensation insurance can be overwhelming, and you may be concerned about making uninformed decisions due to a lack of understanding. 

Your biggest worry might not be the risk to your livelihood, but rather the fear of buying a policy that isn't quite right for your unique situation.

That's where Horan comes in. As an independent insurance agency working with multiple carriers, we have the informed perspective and expertise that others don't. Since 2009, we've been tailoring New York workers comp policies for restaurants like yours, ensuring that you have the right coverage to protect your business and employees.

In this article, we'll explore common injury scenarios in family-style restaurants and discuss how having the appropriate workers comp policy can safeguard your establishment. 

By reading to the end, you'll have a clearer understanding of how to create a safer work environment and mitigate the financial impact of workplace accidents. Let's dive in and find the right workers comp solution for your restaurant.

Common Kitchen Accident Scenarios and How to Handle Them

In a bustling family-style restaurant, the kitchen is the heart of the operation, humming with activity to keep a steady stream of customers moving through the dining room. The faster the tables turn over, the more opportunities you have to maximize revenue. However, in the rush to maintain consistency and speed, accidents can happen.

Second-degree burns in the kitchenWhen the Rush Leads to Serious Burns

Say you have a thriving family-style restaurant in Cicero. But on one busy summer night, one of your cooks reaches for something on the back burner, but inadvertently catches their forearm on the front burner instead. They suffer pretty bad second-degree burns on their forearm. 

While it's not life-threatening, it will certainly take them out of work for the next day or so, if not longer. As the business owner, do you know how to respond?

Many cooks are used to getting minor burns now and then, so they may want to tough it out and keep working. But it's crucial to remember that their safety and well-being should always come before the speed of the kitchen. 

The Importance of Having a Plan and Proper Coverage

In the event of an accident like this, you need to pull the injured cook off the line immediately and begin filling out an accident report. The cook should seek medical attention right away, and this will become a workers comp claim. If the cook is unable to work for an extended period, their wages will also be covered as part of the claim.

This type of scenario can easily happen to anyone working in a kitchen environment. That's why it's essential for restaurant owners to have a clear plan in place for handling workplace accidents and injuries. 

By prioritizing employee safety and being prepared with the right workers comp coverage, you can protect both your valued staff members and your business as a whole.

Navigating the Constant Motion and Potential Hazards in a Busy Kitchen

In a family-style restaurant, the kitchen staff is always on the move. From sharp knives to hot plates and tight corners, the potential for accidents is ever-present.

Daily risk of knife injuriesThe Daily Risks of Knife Injuries

Imagine a scenario where a line cook is quickly chopping onions to keep up with the steady stream of orders. In their haste, they lose focus for just a moment, and the razor-sharp knife slips, slicing deep into their finger. 

Blood immediately begins to flow, and the cook is unable to continue working. They may require stitches or even surgery, depending on the severity of the cut.

This type of knife injury is all too common in busy restaurant kitchens, where staff are working quickly to prepare dishes and meet the demands of a hungry crowd. Even experienced cooks can fall victim to such accidents when they're under pressure to perform.

This is just one example of the many daily hazards kitchen staff face.

While dramatic incidents like someone getting accidentally locked in the freezer are rare, it's the near misses that occur constantly that pose the most significant risk. 

A knife slice coming within an inch of someone's hand or a narrowly avoided slip and fall–these are the types of incidents that happen frequently in the fast-paced environment of a family-style restaurant kitchen.

Addressing Both Acute and Chronic Injuries Among Serving Staff

Servers in a family-style restaurant are constantly on the move, carrying heavy trays and navigating through the dining area. While acute injuries like collisions or slips and falls can happen in the blink of an eye, it's important not to overlook the potential for chronic injuries that develop over time.

Repetitive Strain Injuries Like Carpal Tunnel

One common example is carpal tunnel syndrome, which can result from the repetitive motion and strain of holding serving trays for extended periods. Even if a server has a pre-existing predisposition to carpal tunnel, the demands of their job can exacerbate the condition or cause it to flare up, preventing them from being able to work.

It's crucial for restaurant owners to understand that if a server develops carpal tunnel syndrome or another chronic injury due to their work duties, it can still qualify as a workers compensation claim

If the employee came into the job without any complaints or issues, but develops a work-related condition after several years on the job, the employer is still responsible for addressing the situation.

Being Prepared for Both Acute and Chronic Injuries

In addition to these long-term, progressive injuries, servers also face the risk of sudden accidents like colliding with a coworker and falling to the ground. Restaurant owners must be prepared to handle both types of scenarios—the acute incidents that occur in a split second and the chronic conditions that develop over months or years of repetitive job duties.

By understanding the full spectrum of potential injuries and having the appropriate workers comp coverage in place, restaurant owners can better protect their servers and create a safer work environment overall.

The Risks of Serving Hot Food in a Fast-Paced Environment

In addition to chronic injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, servers in a family-style restaurant also face the daily risk of accidents involving hot food and beverages. One of the first things you learn when working in a typical CNY restaurant kitchen is to call out “Behind!” or “Corner!” when walking behind someone or approaching a blind spot. 

However, even with these precautions, accidents can still happen.

In the rush to turn tables and keep customers satisfied, servers are often moving quickly while carrying trays laden with piping hot dishes.

When Accidental Spills Lead to Serious Burns

Picture a server navigating through the dining room with a tray full of steaming entrees and sides. Suddenly, they accidentally bump into another staff member or patron. Or perhaps a child jumps up from their chair unexpectedly, turning to run to the restroom and colliding with the server in the process. 

Risks of serving hot foodIn either scenario, the server could easily lose control of the tray, spilling scalding hot soup or other dishes onto themselves.

The result? Painful burns on the server's hands, arms, or even torso, depending on where the food lands. These types of accidents can happen in the blink of an eye, and they're a constant risk for servers in a busy restaurant setting.

Minimizing Risks and Ensuring Adequate Coverage

Restaurant owners need to be aware of these potential hazards and take steps to minimize the risk of such accidents occurring. This might include implementing safety protocols for carrying hot trays, designing the dining room layout to allow for easier navigation, or providing staff with protective gear like heat-resistant gloves.

Despite precautions, accidents can still happen. That's why it's so important for restaurant owners to have comprehensive workers' compensation coverage in place. By ensuring that their servers are protected in the event of a work-related injury, owners can create a safer, more supportive work environment and mitigate the financial impact of such incidents on their business.

Protecting Employees Even After They Clock Out

While the risks faced by kitchen staff and servers are more apparent, it's also important to consider the potential for injuries to occur even after employees have clocked out for the day. When discussing workers compensation coverage, it's essential to consider a scenario that may not be as commonly addressed in articles like this one. 

Let's say it's the end of the night at your Baldwinsville family-style restaurant, and the last few employees are wrapping up their shifts. They've cleaned and locked up, and now they're heading out to the parking lot to go home.

As they step outside, they notice the parking lot is darker than usual. Perhaps the lights didn't come on properly or there's been a power outage. Regardless of the reason, the visibility is poor. Suddenly, one of your employees trips and falls off the curb, hitting their head hard on the pavement.

It's crucial to understand that this incident would still be considered a workers compensation claim, even though the employee had technically clocked out for the night. As long as they were in the process of leaving work and hadn't yet reached their vehicle, they're still covered under your workers comp policy.

Extending Coverage to Work-Related Tasks Outside the Restaurant

The same principle applies if a returning employee, who ran an errand, slips and falls on an icy patch in the parking lot after a snowstorm. Or, if your night manager, who is carrying the bank deposit, gets injured while walking to their car.

These employees are still performing duties related to their job, and therefore, any injuries sustained during this time would likely be eligible for workers compensation.

As a restaurant owner, it's your responsibility to ensure that your employees are protected not only while they're actively working but also as they transition from the workplace to their personal lives. 

By maintaining a robust workers comp policy and understanding the full scope of coverage, you can provide a safer, more supportive environment for your staff and mitigate the financial impact of any work-related injuries.

Protect Your Restaurant and Your Staff by Investing in the Right Workers Comp Policy

Running a family-style restaurant in Central New York comes with its share of rewards and challenges. By understanding the common injury scenarios your employees face and taking proactive steps to mitigate those risks, you can create a safer, more supportive work environment for your team.

At Horan, we have the expertise and resources to help you navigate the complexities of workers compensation insurance. With years of experience working with family-style restaurants in Central New York, our knowledgeable team is well-equipped to provide guidance on implementing effective safety measures and choosing the right policy to meet your unique needs.

We offer a wide range of services, including risk assessment, policy customization, claims management, and ongoing support. Our goal is to be your trusted partner, helping you protect your employees, minimize financial losses, and maintain compliance with state regulations. 

By choosing Horan, you'll benefit from our extensive industry knowledge and commitment to exceptional customer service.

Throughout this article, we covered the importance of having a plan in place, extending coverage to work-related tasks outside the restaurant, and addressing both acute and chronic injuries among your staff. By following this advice and partnering with Horan, you'll be better prepared to handle any challenges that come your way.

Don't leave your restaurant and staff vulnerable to the financial and emotional impact of workplace accidents. Take action today to ensure you have the right workers' comp coverage in place before an incident occurs. Our experienced team is ready to help you find the right solution for your business.

Click the Get a Quote button below to request a customized quote and gain the confidence that comes with knowing your restaurant and employees are protected. Let Horan be your guide in securing the workers compensation coverage you need to thrive in the competitive world of family-style dining.

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Daniel J. Middleton

Daniel is an accomplished content creator. He has been working in publishing for almost two decades. Horan Companies hired Daniel as its content manager in November 2022. The agency entrusted its messaging to him. Since then, Daniel has written insurance articles, service pages, PDF guides, and more. All in an effort to educate CNY readers. He's helping them understand the world of insurance so they can make informed decisions.