Ask anyone who’s ever worked in a restaurant at the height of summer, and they’ll tell you the kitchen gets molten hot. You’ve known it since before you bought your current restaurant. It’s the nature of the business. As a restaurant owners, it’s important to take proper precautions in your own kitchens to avoid heat stress among your employees. When you do, you avoid unnecessary accidents, illnesses, and workers’ comp claims.
WHAT IS HEAT STRESS?
Heat stress occurs when someone is exposed to high heat and humidity far beyond their own tolerance. The impact can be as mild as a heat rash, become more severe with heat exhaustion, or end in a heat stroke or even death. Too much exposure to heat and poor indoor air quality can make employees extremely sick. Signs of heat stress can vary but all should be cause for alarm.
- Loss of focus and concentration
- Unable to perform their typical duties
- Feeling sick or nauseous
- No desire to drink fluids
- If not treated, death.
PREVENTING HEAT STRESS IN THE KITCHEN
You can’t make the heat go away in the kitchen, of course, but you can minimize the risk to your employees.
- If possible, install an air-conditioned hood. This is an expensive fix for most restaurants and requires extra cooking effort in the winter, but it can be a lifesaver during the summer.
- Make sure employees stay hydrated. Keep plenty of water or Gatorade available for kitchen staff throughout their shift, not just during meal breaks.
- Don’t mind if someone spends a few extra minutes in the walk-in coolers. During the warm months, you’ll probably notice that it’s much cleaner as everyone wants some time in there.
- Rotate grill or stove duty as often as you can. You can do this within a shift or over the course of a few days. Give people a break from the extra heat.
- Encourage employees to put cool moist towels around their neck. Pop them in the freezer to get nice and cold and then use them to cool off while working over the grill.
- Create a solid system of work and rest cycles so everyone gets a break from the heat for a while. Encourage hydration during this time.
- Be on the lookout for symptoms of heat stress. Everyone should know what it looks like and what to do if someone gets sick. Have a plan in case the worst happens.
WHY IT MATTERS
Coming down with heat exhaustion or heat stroke could land an employee in the hospital. In the meantime, they may unintentionally cause an accident. It all leads to one place — a workers’ compensation claim. Have too many and your insurance costs will go through the roof.
Avoid all of that with prevention. Make sure your employees have what they need, and train them in proper safety techniques. They can’t avoid the heat of the kitchen, but they don’t have to get sick from it, either.
Looking for a new, more affordable workers’ comp insurance policy? Have questions about your current insurance coverage or looking for ways to save? Contact Charlotte Insurance today. We’re here to help.