Preventing Slips, Trips & Falls

Injuries caused by trips and falls are common in the restaurant & catering industry. The pace can be hectic, work areas are often cluttered and congested and floors in cool rooms, loading docks and behind bars can be slippery. There is also a lot of walking up and down stairs while carrying crockery and heavy loads.

Minimising the risks

· Ensure good housekeeping and storage procedures are in place at all times.

· Provide drain and spill trays.

· Clean up spillages as soon as they happen. This includes dry mopping to ensure surfaces are dry.

· Avoid creating cluttered work areas. Do not leave rubbish bags, boxes and furniture in passageways entrances and exits.

· Repair all damaged floors and damaged tiles to avoid trips.

· Provide good lighting in all traffic areas.

· Clean mats and rugs regularly and maintain/keep them in a good condition.

· Use anti-slip mats in wet areas.

· Make sure power cords are never placed across walkways.

· Ensure all staff are wearing appropriate footwear at all times. This includes: Closed toe shoes with rubber or slip resistant souls, low heels and cushioned support.

Protective footwear

Failure to wear appropriate protective footwear can result in injuries such as burns, broken toes, contusions, cuts, sprained ankles, aching legs and back. In addition this can contribute to injuries from slipping over.

Protective footwear is a closed shoe with rubber of slip resistant soles, low heel and cushioned support.

Non-protective footwear includes sandals or other open toed shoes, high heels, cloth shoes, sneakers or trainers and leather soled shoes.

Safe Manual Handling

Restaurant and Catering Industry injury data shows that kitchen hands, cooks, waiters and chefs across all age categories sustain the highest number of injuries. Most of the injuries occur when lifting, handling or reaching and most commonly result in sprains and strains of muscles and joints.

Actions and Procedures

Reaching above shoulder height

When reaching for items above shoulder height, the back is arched and the arms act as long levers, making the load difficult to control and significantly increasing the risk of injuries such as fall, sprains or strains.

Heavier items and more frequently used items should be stored between knee and chest height. If this is not practical, employees should be provided with adequate means to retrieve and place items in storage areas without lifting above head/shoulder height.

Holding load away from trunk

The risk of injury increases, as the load or arms are held further away from the front of the body. This is most evident when employees reach into display fridges and ovens while cleaning or accessing food.

Consideration should be given to the size and accessibility of display fridges and ovens. Display fridges and ovens are available with a side opening and completely removable doors. When reaching into chest freezers using baskets or other storage options, ensuring clear access around the chest freezer will minimize the reaching involved.

Reaching forward to pick up low level loads

Bending forward to pick up loads from a low level may cause strains, particularly to the lower back. To reduce the risk of injury, review storage systems in the kitchen. Ideally, heavier items and more frequently used items should be stored between knee and chest height.

Awkward and static postures while working at workbenches and sinks

Awkward and static postures are a hazard, especially when working at benches or sinks for long periods of time, particularly if the surfaces have not been set at appropriate heights. Such tasks include hand washing/scrubbing dishes in troughs that are too deep and cutting or preparing food at benches that are either too low or too high for the worker. It is not always practical or feasible to provide adjustable surfaces. Individuals can raise themselves up by standing on low, stable platforms to work at surfaces that are too high. Platforms on the floor should be placed in a position/area where they are not a trip hazard.

The Load

Moving plates

Moving large numbers of plates and crockery is a high-risk task. They may be heavy, fragile and often hot. Where practical, this task should be eliminated by using mechanical equipment such as spring-loaded, heated plate dispenser. These can be used in both the kitchen and dining areas. People in control of the workplace should ensure that carrying large amounts of plates and crockery manually is eliminated or reduced.

Carrying large amounts of cooked food in pots should be avoided. Food should be transferred straight to the plate from the pot or to smaller containers in order to carry them to serving areas. The use of trolleys may reduce the hazard.


Handling stock

Many restaurants receive bulk deliveries of goods. Handling bulk deliveries is another high-risk task. Where possible, the deliveries should be placed near where they will be stored. If this is not practical, place the goods where they will not cause a slip, trip or fall hazard.

When placing stock into storage, heavier items and more frequently used items should be stored between knee and chest height. If that is not practical, workers should be provided with a stepladder or safety step to reduce reaching above shoulder height. Consideration should also be given to using bulk storage bins for products such as flour and rice.

Stock levels should be managed to ensure there is adequate room to store items in shelving and storage areas.

It is important that the amount of weight a single person can lift will vary greatly between men and women and their build.

There are certain things you need to be aware of:

· Excessive tiredness

· Bad posture

· Untidy work areas

· Awkward loads

· History of back trouble

Never attempt to lift anything on your own if it feels too heavy.


Sources: Safe work Australia: