The top 13 risks to restaurant operations

March 5, 2013
The top 13 risks to restaurant operations

Cintas Corporation, a restaurant facility solutions, has named its top 13 hidden risks to restaurant operations, as well as tips on how to avoid them.

"Every year, we receive calls from restaurants wanting to use our services after something has happened, like a slip and fall or a fire," said David Collette, director of Foodservice. "By identifying these risks before an incident occurs, restaurants can keep their operations running smoothly and better protect workers and guests."

They include:

1. Slips and falls.According to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI), more than 3 million foodservice employees are injured each year from slip-and-fall accidents. With an average cost of almost $21,000 per claim, this is a substantial risk. Protect floors, workers and patrons with a comprehensive safe floor program that includes deep cleaning, protection and ongoing maintenance.

2. Broken doors and locks. Compromised entryways can pose substantial security risks even in the safest neighborhoods. Whether it's late on Christmas Eve or in the middle of a storm, equip your restaurant with the resources to immediately fix broken doors or locks.

3. Dirty restrooms. In a recent poll, Americans identified dirty restrooms of one of the top three reasons they would not return to a restaurant (along with dirty silverware and odor). Patrons often equate dirty restrooms with dirty kitchens, so a regular maintenance program is critical to a restaurant's overall success and profitability.

4. Cooking fires.By knowing that the majority of restaurant fires occur around 10 a.m., restaurant operators can develop a fire protection system that prevents or limits the spread of cooking fires. Ensure that hood suppression systems are regularly inspected by a licensed fire protection provider. Also, have your kitchen hood and exhaust ducts cleaned of excess grease and fuel at regular intervals.

5. Identity theft.In an industry notorious for high employee turnover, a secure document management program reduces opportunity for exposure of private information from personnel records. This program should involve properly shredding application forms, payroll stubs and any other documents with potentially sensitive personal information and can also extend to financial documents such as credit card receipts, billing statements and tax papers.

6. Cuts and burns. Keep a regularly stocked first-aid cabinet available. By treating wounds with the proper ointments and bandages that are made specifically for the foodservice environment, you limit the opportunity for infection or additional irritation. Exposure to bloodborne pathogens (BBP) are a top concern in foodservice environments, so training workers on how to correctly handle incidents with exposure to BBP and providing them with the correct personal protective equipment will limit their risk and reduce Workers' Compensation costs.

7. Unfocused employees.Regardless of the restaurant's size, front and back of the house staff will often be asked to work extra hours to cover for no-show or sick employees. Workers must also perform additional responsibilities, such as restroom cleaning, clearing entryways, etc. By working with a facility services provider that provides ongoing cleaning and restocking services on a pre-determined schedule, you can limit task overload so employees can focus on taking care of your guests.

8. Ugly floors.Worn out floors that show excess dirt and wear can serve as an indicator of the overall restaurant cleanliness and act as a deterrent to business. Protect floors by covering entryways and high traffic areas with matting.

9. Untrained workers.You never know when someone will choke, experience a heart attack or a have a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) incident. Give workers the skills, products and training they need to help save a life. Just as life-saving automated external defibrillators (AEDs) require ongoing maintenance, regularly provide training updates so staff can confidently respond to any situation.

10. Norovirus. Affecting more than 20 million people each year, norovirus can often spread through hard surfaces, improperly washed fruits and vegetables and uncooked food. An outbreak stemming from a restaurant can create a negative image of the restaurant's cleanliness, so restaurants can benefit from a rigorous food safety and surface cleaning program.

11. Missing fire extinguishers.According to the U.S. Fire administration, an estimated 5,900 restaurant building fires occur annually, resulting in $172 million in property loss. Like hood suppression and sprinkler systems, have a licensed fire protection provider regularly inspect your fire extinguishers to make sure they are in working order and a hung in the appropriate areas.

12. Improperly mixed chemicals.Chemical concentrates that require manual dilution can put employees at risk. Workers can improperly mix chemicals, resulting in exposure to potentially toxic fumes. To limit this opportunity, restaurants should use dilution control systems that automatically dispense the proper ratios of chemical to water, ensuring that cleaning solutions are used as directed.

13. Natural disasters. As Hurricane Katrina and Sandy have shown, natural disasters can happen in any part of the country and leave a devastating impact on restaurants. Limit the impact of nature's wrath by identifying emergency preparation plans before a storm occurs. This should include employee shelters and meeting spots, emergency contacts and pre-selected vendors who can assist with recovery efforts.

Read more about operations management.

Topics: Equipment & Supplies, Insurance / Risk Management, Loss Prevention, Operations Management, Staffing & Training

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