5 Safety Insights from FIRMA West this week


August 4, 2016

5 Safety Insights from FIRMA West this week

This week I attended the Foodservice Industry Risk Management Association Conference at Cal State in Fullerton, California. In attendance were over 200 risk management professionals and vendors from the restaurant, hospitality and wider foodservice industry sharing a variety of papers and presentations on safety topics. The Restaurant Technologies team attended to learn as well as share the impact on kitchen safety that our systems can have.

Here are some of the best insights that were shared:


1. Slips and Falls – Fascinating presentation from John Brault of Semper Scientific and also part of the Gait Lab at USC (who knew that there was such a thing as a gait lab... where you can slip but not fall, as test subjects walk in harnesses). Key insights were that it matters very much for walkway safety what testing method and instruments you use. Not all tribometers will give an accurate indication of whether a floor is safe or not when actually tested with a real human walking on the wet surface. Old-fashioned dragsleds are highly inaccurate and even more modern devices such as the English XL and the Bot 3000 (used by the ceramic tile industry) give highly variable readings. The best of all the instruments tested and the one recommended by the USC team is the Mark IIIB.

Journal of Forensic ScienceYou can read their entire study of 11 tribometers in the Journal of Forensic Science HERE

2. Slips and Falls – John also shared information on where the mythical number of 0.5 as a “threshold” for safety and slip resistance came from. It dates to 1947 in a study by UL’s Sidney James that was done on waxed floors, tested dry. There is no endorsement of this number by OSHA or any industry standard. It is irrelevant to wet surfaces and it does not specify a test method. Given the insights above on tribometers, that makes it effectively useless.

3. Slips and Falls – Shoes. There are 2 billion pairs of shoes sold in the US each year. 98.5% are imported. There is no such thing as a pure rubber sole – so when customers and employees claim to be wearing “safe” shoes because they were “rubber soled” we can be certain this is not true. Also, barefoot people have 11x the risk of slipping and falling vs. someone wearing any type of shoes. There is no substitute for proper safety shoes for kitchen employees.

4. Strains, Sprains and Muscular-Skeletal Injuries – Hyatt representatives in attendance shared their experience reducing strain and sprain claims among room attendants through training in proper lifting and stretching, in reporting claims early and using simple devices like the bed wedge. Contrary to the employees’ fears, the bed wedge added only 10 seconds to the time to make a bed, yet made a dramatic difference to back safety. Very important when some room attendants are as old as 83!

5. OSHA Audits – Herman Jett, the Orange & LA County Supervisor for Cal OSHA shared insights on the “Eight Minimum Elements” OSHA look for on an audit. They are Responsibility, Compliance, Communication, Hazard Assessment, Hazard Correction, Hierarchical Control, Training & Record Keeping.

Thanks to FIRMA West for putting a great 2 days together – especially the evening reception at the beautiful Summit House Restaurant. Particular thanks to Kurt Leisure of Cheesecake Factory, Andrew Flor of Montage Hotels and Resorts and Olya Wadsworth of FIRMA.

FIRMA West Conference
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