A troubling safety record
Safety is important in any job, but particularly so in the restaurant industry where young and inexperienced workers abound. In fact, according to the National Restaurant Association, the food service industry is one of the largest employers of teens in the country, and many go on to senior positions. More than half of McDonald’s middle and senior managers started as fry cooks or other entry-level positions, and more than 50 percent of store owners began as crew members in a franchise. The food service industry also has one of the best records of diversity, equity, inclusion, and providing reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities; under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
But the industry has had a troubling safety record. Of the 2.5 million teens working in the restaurant industry, the majority injured on the job are most likely to be working in food service outlets, according to one of the only studies of its kind.
Collecting data from a sample of hospitals across the country over a two-year period, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) estimated that emergency rooms treated about 44,800 injuries suffered by teenage restaurant workers. Of those injuries, an estimated 28,000 — that's 63 percent — took place in hamburger, pizza, or other food service establishments. Interestingly, most of the injuries occurred in Quick Service Restaurants - hamburger QSR (52.6 percent), as compared to pizza places (12.6 percent) and chicken or fish restaurants (11.7 percent).
The NIOSH study also determined that nearly half of the restaurant kitchen injuries involved hot grease and that more than half of the injuries from falls were caused by wet or greasy floors.
Does your oil handling procedure look something like the video below?
Research shows that you are more likely to be burned
Researchers have also found that teens working in restaurant kitchens are 6 times more likely to be burned than teens working in any other industry. According to the Burn Foundation, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit, teens working as fry cooks in the food services industry are at special risk for burn injuries.
Investigating burns among restaurant workers in Colorado and Minnesota, researchers found that of the 71 teenagers in Minnesota who had had work-related burns, 31 suffered permanent scarring. (Of these injuries, 28 occurred in Quick Service restaurants, and 14 of those accidents involved hot oil and grease.) One 16-year-old crew cook in a Minnesota restaurant outlet was burned over much of his body as he was pushing a container of hot grease outside to filter it. As he reached the door, the container slipped and the lid popped off, spilling the scalding grease all over him.