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Accidents Happen: But Which Are Hospitality’s Most Common Causes?

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Accidents Happen: But Which Are Hospitality’s Most Common Causes?

February 27
10:00 2019

Between 2016–2017, more than 430,000 injuries left employees needing up to seven days to recuperate; 175,000 of these required more than a week of recovery time. With specific reference to the hospitality industry, the Health and Safety Executive noted that the industry has a lower-than-average rate of workplace illness but a higher- than-average accident at work rate compared to other sectors. The majority of these, according to Boutique Hotelier, are down to slips, trips, and falls.

Slips, trips and falls in hospitality

Accidents of this nature are the most common among non-fatal injuries to employees, accounting for 29% of the most common non-fatal accidents. A spilled drink in the office, a frayed rug corner in a dining room, or an oil or chemical spill outside; these things happen but the problem arises when the spills and trip hazards aren’t addressed immediately, turning the risk into a cause.

This is when an accident becomes a work accident, because the workplace is at fault for not having the necessary protocol to address the spill or hazard before an accident occurs.

How to prevent slips, trips, and falls:

  • Danger tape to highlight any potential trip hazards, such as steps or uneven flooring
  • Non-slip footwear
  • Signs to signal any recent spills
  • Signs for slippery areas
  • Adequate lighting
  • A process in place that has spills tended to immediately

Lifting and handling-based injuries

Accounting for over 20% of all non-fatal injuries, injuries from lifting and handling heavy items  are the second most common workplace injury in hospitality and tend to revolve around muscle strains, including back, neck, arm and leg pain. These injuries usually occur over a stretch of time in situations involving the frequent handling of heavy goods. However it is also possible to be injured from a one-off heavy item lifting situation.

How to prevent handling-based injuries:

  • The use of apparatus to help lifting, where available
  • The use of lifting equipment
  • Training on how to lift heavy goods
  • Ask for help with lifting heavy items

Being hit by an object

Around 10% of injuries in hospitality are caused by being struck by an object. Such injuries can cause a varying degree of problems, from minor cuts and bruises to more serious results like concussion or even blindness. Items falling from a high shelf, moving loads with machinery and dropping tools are all common causes.

How to prevent being hit by objects:

  • Self-standing items should be secured
  • Stick to designated routes when using machinery to move loads
  • Make sure that any objects that aren’t on ground level are secure
  • Avoid working or moving under a moving load
  • Inspect lifting apparatus to ensure everything is working

Falls from height

With roughly 7% of all non-fatal workplace accidents involving a fall from heights including ladders, scaffolding or other structures or platforms that aren’t at floor level, this is the fourth most common cause of injury in hospitality and the third highest contributor to fatal injuries, with broken limbs, fractures, bruises and concussion comprising around 20% of cases.

A study carried out by the Health and Safety Executive on 150 falls within the food and drink sectors revealed that ladders were the most common (40%), with vehicles at 17%, machinery and platforms each at 10%, stairs (8%), roofs (7%), scaffolding (4%) and warehouse racking (4%).

How to prevent falls from height:

  • Where possible, control points and work should be designed to take place on ground level
  • Permanent safety features should be installed if frequently working at height
  • Ensure the type of ladder or scaffolding is correct for the job at hand
  • Do not overreach when on a ladder or scaffolding

Acts of violence in the workplace

The fifth most common accident at work for the hospitality industry is caused by acts of violence (7%). Generally, employees who deal with face-to-face roles are at risk of violence from customers or other employees. The injuries caused by acts of violence can vary, but they can also be prevented.

How to prevent:

  • Physical security measures, such as CCTV and security locks
  • Wider counters can help protect staff in customer-facing roles
  • Regular staff meetings to highlight day-to-day problems at work
  • Informing your employer is a strong first step to having the matter addressed
  • Detailed records of previous incidents will help to identify patterns, causes, and areas of concern

In the fast-paced environment of hospitality, while it’s not uncommon for the occasional bump or bruise to occur, the line is drawn between the occasional mishap and employers flouting their duty of care. With the right prevention methods in place, common workplace accidents such as these can hopefully be prevented so they reduce over time.


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Catering Scotland

Catering Scotland

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