Restaurants

Workers’ Compensation for the Restaurant Industry

Workers’ compensation insurance for restaurant owners is available from various insurance carriers.

  • Work comp coverage cost is below average for most job classification codesincluding:
    • Servers
    • Cashiers
    • Busboys
    • Dishwashers
    • Management.
  • The cost of coverage for the cooks is above average for all occupations.

Restaurants are found everywhere with a mixture of national, regional and local companies. They vary in size and customer base from small fast food chain restaurants to a single location five-star restaurant. Large companies operate concessions for major arenas and public venues such as the Superdome.

Physical hazards most common in restaurants include:

  • Spills on the floors can cause slips and falls
  • Carrying trays can cause muscle / back strain
  • Lifting of boxes and other packaged products improperly can cause back problems
  • Hot surfaces, hot liquids and hot materials can cause burns, sometimes severe

Formalized safety programs exist in most regional and national companies. Safety in single location restaurants varies and is often minimal.

The workforce in most restaurants (excluding four and five star restaurants) has a high frequency of turnover, as many of the positions are low paying.

  • Training often amounts to a few minutes of being told what to do.
  • Due to the frequent employee turn-over, most employees do not develop a loyalty to the employer.

Restaurants have a higher than average percentage of medical only claims due to cuts, slips and falls, and strains.

  • Medical benefits cost tend to be below average due to the minor nature of most injuries.
  • However, severe burns do occur.
  • Employers at restaurants in states where the employer selects the medical provider will have a nearby medical facility to send the employees.
  • In the states where the employee selects the medical provider, the employers often provide a list of nearby facilities for the employee to select from.
  • The overall cost of temporary total indemnity benefits is lower than average due to the low severity of most injuries.
  • Permanent partial disability benefits occur infrequently.
  • Disability from repetitive motion injuries occur at a greater frequency than in most industries.

A large caterer or concession company with several hundred locations often has loyal employees with a relatively low wage base who speak English as a second language. This makes placement in alternative duty positions challenging. In these situations, employers must be creative when developing their transitional duty job banks.

Some categories related to restaurants that would have the same or similar work comp issues include:

  • Caterers
  • Coffee shops
  • Ice cream shops
  • Concession stands
  • Banquet halls
  • Taverns

Transitional / Modified Duties in the Restaurant Industry

Modified duty is plentiful in the restaurant industry where many jobs are not heavy or highly skilled in nature. Employers should have no trouble modifying an employee’s job or identifying tasks from other jobs to match physician assigned abilities. Examples of modified duty include:

Waitress / Waiter: Allow placement as a host / hostess if restricted from lifting.
Side-work: Allow employee to set-up dining room including placement of dishes, silverware, glasses and napkins. Fill water glasses, salt/pepper shakers, ketchup bottles, etc.
Dish Washer: Ask another employee to transfer the heavy tubs of dirty dishes for the injured worker to wash.
Light Cleaning: Wipe shelving in freezer and in storage room.
Greeter: Greet customers as they enter and leave.

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