OSHA Regulations for Restaurants

OSHA Regulations for Restaurants: What is Osha, Is your restaurant covered by OSHA,OSHA standards for restaurants, Essential rules to keep compliant with OSHA, Conclusion.

OSHA Regulations for Restaurants: What is Osha, Is your restaurant covered by OSHA,OSHA standards for restaurants, Essential rules to keep compliant with OSHA, Conclusion
Regulations for restaurants

Every employee is the strength of a successful business. A workplace free from injuries and accidents improves the productivity and efficiency of employees. A healthy worker helps to reduce downtime and absenteeism caused by illness and disruptions, eventually saving your money.

Following the health and safety standards is a sensible action to reduce risk. It is the responsibility of the employer to provide a safe and healthy work environment to its employees. To reduce the death and injuries occurring at workplaces, OSHA has set standards to ensure employees’ safety at the workplace. 

As much as health care, construction, chemical industries, restaurants must look after the safety and health of their employees and abide by the OSHA regulations on their employee’s safety.

What is OSHA:

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was introduced, under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, of 1970. OSHA regulations were introduced to reduce the injuries and deaths occurring at workplaces. 

Many employees suffer illness, injuries, death, and abuse. OSHA provides certain rights and enforces a set of standards to create a healthy and safe environment for both men and women at their workplaces.

OSHA set out safety measures to maintain a safe and healthy work environment for employees. These regulations bind and impose responsibilities on all employers in various sectors. 

Employers should provide training and awareness, adopt safety plans and maintain a hygienic and healthy environment. Non-compliance with OSHA regulations can cause financial loss and may result in the shut down of your restaurant.

To ensure adherence to OSHA regulations, an authorised inspector on this behalf may conduct a surprise visit to your workplace. If the inspector finds any violation of safety rules during the inspection, he can issue a fine and an order to correct it within a specific time limit.

Your restaurant may close down if you do not follow these orders within the given time limit.

Is your restaurant covered by OSHA:

Whether you come under the purview of OSHA or not; depends upon the type of work and operations conducted in your business. OSHA covers almost every private sector business and federal government agency.

State and government agencies are out of the purview of OSHA.

OSHA standards for restaurants:

Like other commercial businesses and industries, restaurants also needed to follow standards to safeguard employees’ rights and safety. OSHA sets specific standards, having a binding effect on the employer to keep their workplace free from seriously recognized hazards. It is essential to know OSHA regulations to stay compliant. 

Apart from essential regulations, employers are required to follow certain things:

  • Maintain accurate and updated records of any injuries or accidents occurring at workplaces.
  • Paste OSHA posters on a noticeable area, which includes the rights and responsibilities of employees and employers.
  • Address employees’ concerns and provide open communication to improve engagement with them.
  • Conduct timely inspections to ensure the safe working of equipment and safety gadgets.

Essential rules to keep compliant with OSHA:

To abide by the OSHA regulations and maintain a safe and healthy workplace environment, you are required to follow these rules

Maintain Clean and Dry floors: 

The risk of falling, slipping, and tripping at a restaurant is higher in comparison to other businesses. Many things fall off or spill on floors while moving or transporting and make the floor dirty and wet. 

Many dishes and drinks, mop buckets, and cleaning supplies move from the kitchen to customer tables in restaurants. These things may spill on floors, and if any wet spot remains, it can result in serious hazards due to the fall, slip, or trip. 

Keeping floors clean and dry is essential to prevent these safety hazards and keep you compliant with the OSHA regulations. OSHA regulations require employers to maintain clean and dry floors in restaurants to ensure the safety of the workplace. 

The area covered by the bar and sink should be kept dry and clean. There should be a proper drainage facility to prevent forming pools of water due to leakage or blockage.

You can use carpets and raised platforms to ensure more safety for workers. Do not forget to check the carpets’ ends and make sure there are no tears and pilling.

Proper food handling:

In today’s era, people look for healthy and hygienic food; anywhere they go. Unhealthy and unhygienic food can cause several diseases and illnesses to employees and customers.

These can deteriorate restaurants’ image and cause financial loss. Maintaining proper food handling in restaurants can help to keep a healthy work environment and maintain work efficiency.

Proper handling of food not only helps to boost your restaurant’s image; but also keeps you compliant with OSHA regulations. 

OSHA regulations have mandated maintaining proper food handling in restaurants to reduce its impact and mitigate safety hazards.

Before handling food, employees should properly sterilise and wash their hands and utensils in warm water or soap; to make them germ-free. The employer should also provide instructions and training for wiping down counters, tables, and other spots to make them healthy and sterilised.

Optimum working condition:

Maintaining optimal working conditions is crucial to maintaining productivity. Safe and healthy employees can work faster and efficiently. Preparing food by whatever means, gas, stoves, or oven in restaurants kitchens exhibit a high amount of heat. This heat has the potential to cause dehydration and heat exhaustion. 

There are many things: ovens, grills, and stoves can easily exhibit heat above 90 degrees. These can result in health impacts like heat exhaustion, dehydration, and heat strokes of employees. 

OSHA has established guidelines to maintain a cool room facilitated with an air conditioner or fans for employees to take frequent breaks in every restaurant. Take measures and provide training to employees to work safely in circumstances where they have high possibilities of burning from hot pans, hot cookers, hot oil splash, and other things in kitchens.  

Make them aware of the use of first aid in case of any emergency. Teach things to do when a fellow worker shows a sign of heat exhaustion or is unable to breathe.

Although OSHA does not provide a clear standard; but set a limit of 91-115 degrees or higher temperatures requires taking protective measures for employee safety. 

Adopt fire safety measures:

Heat and fire are the two biggest concerns in restaurant kitchens. Ovens, gas, grills, cylinders, and stoves can result in safety hazards if not handled properly. Restaurants kitchens have the potential to cause a big fire due to casualties. The future is full of uncertainties; preparations are better to avoid huge losses. There are a few points you should consider to protect your business and employees from fire:

  • It is mandatory to check and implement safety measures to prevent fire and its spread in the restaurant. 
  • Employers should prepare a fire safety plan to ensure a safe workspace environment. A fire safety plan should contain the instructions in case any circumstance arises. 
  • A fire extinguisher must be kept in a specified area in every restaurant. 
  • The employer should also provide training and instructions; about how to use these fire extinguishers and safety measures to keep in case of fire.
  • It is mandatory by OSHA to test the proper working condition of fire extinguishers from time to time and sign maintenance logs. 

Observe the age limitation:

OSHA has made regulations and set standards for the youth workforce considering youth safety at workplaces. It is mandatory to follow these regulations by employers. 

Employers have to abide by the age requirements, type of work employees can perform, and the number of working hours to comply with the OSHA regulations. Safety guidelines for youth employed in restaurants include;

  • Employees below the age of 16 can not handle sharp objects like knives and should not be allowed to cook, bake and grill.
  • Employees below the age of 19 should not be allowed to serve alcohol.
  • Child labor laws also prohibit the engagement of workers below 18 years in cleaning, adjusting, working, and handling any sharp object or equipment used in the kitchen like knives, cutters, slicers, or mixers at their place of work.
  • Employers are also required to provide training and instructions to work safely in any circumstance. 

Conclusion OSHA Regulations for Restaurants

As an employer, you have the responsibility and liability to maintain a healthy and safe working environment for employees. OSHA regulations were set, considering the increasing rate of injuries and deaths of employees in commercial sectors. 

OSHA regulations can be used as a single bow to strike two targets at a time. 

A healthy and safe workspace can increase the efficiency of employees and improve the restaurant’s image while keeping compliant with the OSHA regulations.

These help to engage with employees effectively; also save money in the long run by reducing the training and hospital costs. A healthy and fit employee also decreases absenteeism from work.

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Editions: Feb-sept 2022

This post is also available in: English