Workers’ Comp Loss Control Checklist for Restaurants

February 28, 2019

One of the largest insurance costs faced by restaurant owners is state-mandated workers’ compensation. Workers’ comp provides benefits to your employees when injured on the job. Workers’ comp cost is determined by your payroll size, the type of work your employees do (class), and your loss history. You can reduce your losses, and pay less for workers’ comp, by adopting loss control best practices.

Each restaurant is different, but some general loss control principals apply to all managers:

  • Understand risks and risk-control best practices
  • Regularly audit your workplace for risks and risk-control practices
  • Train your employees to work safely, especially new ones
  • Listen to your employees for ideas regarding risk management
  • Don’t tolerate any employees who don’t take safety seriously

The following is a restaurant loss control summary checklist derived from actual loss events reported by insurance carriers and OSHA. The free document “Cal/OSHA Guide to Restaurant Safety” (a more detailed 53 page report in both English and Spanish) is available at this website:

Cuts and Punctures (most common source of loss)

  • Use designated broken glass bucket
  • Offer cut resistant gloves
  • Hand wash knives and blades separately

Slips and Falls (most expensive source of loss)

  • Install slip-resistant floor, or flat non-skid mats
  • Keep floors clean and dry, especially when raining
  • Use wet floor signs, but only when floor is wet
  • Train on proper soap to water ratios
  • Have separate color-coded mops for front
  • Make non-slip shoes mandatory
  • Remove all clutter

Muscle Strain (longest duration time off source of loss)

  • Use lifting aides like dollies
  • Require 2 people on anything over 50 pounds
  • Store heavy items at mid-body heights
  • Assign repetitive tasks to multiple employees


  • Use dry gloves and oven mitts on hot items…not hand towels
  • Wear proper attire like splatter shields
  • Require close-toed shoes
  • Avoiding lifting heavy items like stockpots or oil when hot
  • Inspect and clean hoods, ducts and extinguishers regularly
  • Store all chemical below eye level
  • Do not store anything above deep fryer
  • Keep first aid burn kit on hand


  • Make sure cold storage has interior lighting and latch release
  • Remove any ice build-up in cold storage
  • Eliminate the need for ladders if possible. Don’t use other items as ladders.
  • Don’t clean machines that are plugged in
  • Keep hair, clothing, jewelry away from machines
  • Use GFCI receptacles…everybody should know how to shut off power
  • Don’t use extension cords permanently
  • Don’t obstruct any exits


If you’re a restaurant owner, you are busy. But you also want to protect your employees and save money. Workers’ comp losses are not random or inevitable. Studies have repeatedly shown that restaurant owners employing safety best practices have lower loss rates which leads to lower Workers’ comp expense.


Carrie Babij is President of Desert Insurance Solutions in La Quinta, and has more than 25 years’ experience with high net worth personal and commercial lines of insurance. For more information, contact Carrie at


Last modified: February 28, 2019

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