Course 613 - Worker Safety in Restaurants

Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

Drive-Thru Safety

drive thru

The drive-thru area of a restaurant gives workers the opportunity for direct contact with the public. However, they may also be exposed to the following hazards:

  • noise
  • strains and sprains
  • workplace violence
  • prolonged standing
  • car exhaust

Noise

Restaurant workers may be exposed to noise, especially while working in the drive-thru area. Workers often wear headsets to hear orders when working at drive-up windows and they may be exposed to loud headset background noise while wearing headsets.

Possible Solutions

There are several things workers can do help reduce the level of noise in a drive-thru. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Fit headsets properly to your head.
  • Don’t turn headset volumes up excessively high.
  • See your doctor if you are experiencing ringing in your ears or problems with hearing.

Safe Work Practices

Employers can implement safe work practices to help prevent noise exposure, such as:

  • Use acoustical limiting devices in headsets. These types of headsets are designed to provide sufficient protection to the keep the noise levels below those required by OSHA.
  • Use good quality microphones to improve reception capabilities.
  • Ensure the headset fits the worker properly. Adjustable headsets work the best.
  • Reduce the duration of exposure to loud noises by rotating workers through jobs in the drive-thru area.

1. How can employers reduce exposure to loud noises in the drive-thru area?

a. Hire younger workers for work in the drive-thru area
b. Limit the time the drive-thru area is open
c. Use good quality microphones
d. Ask customers to turn their vehicle engines off

Next Section

Sprains and Strains

drive thru
Install a drop box to deliver orders to customers.

Employees can be exposed to sprains and strains from tasks that require repetitive motions, such as excessive reaching, lifting, and leaning out of drive-thru windows to hand customers their orders.

Possible Solutions

Here are some ways to help decrease the likelihood of sprains and strains:

  • Avoid twisting while lifting. Twisting is a major cause for muscle strains.
  • Avoid overreaching. For example, you can walk food out to customers if they are parked too far away from the window.
  • Stay fit to help avoid injuries.

Safe Work Practices

Employers can do the following safe work practices to help prevent injuries:

  • Rearrange workstations to provide for easy access to items used most frequently.
  • Redesign drive-thru windows to alleviate employee reaching. For example, rather than having employees reach across a window to deliver food, you may want to install a drop box to deliver orders to customers.
  • Rotate workers through the drive-thru area to limit their exposure to excessive reaching.

2. How can employers reduce sprains and strains in the drive-thru area?

a. Hire more workers
b. Close the drive-thru after a specific time
c. There is not a lot of excess noise in the drive-thru
d. Rotate workers through jobs

Next Section

Workplace Violence

workplace violence
Restaurants can be a target for workplace violence because of the presence of cash, late work hours, and contact with the public.

Workplace violence is violence or the threat of violence against workers. It can range from threats, and verbal abuse to physical assaults and homicides from behaviors either initiated by customers, other employees, and employers.

Many workplaces, like restaurants, can be a target for workplace violence because of the presence of cash, late work hours, and contact with the public. In addition, sometimes the drive-thru is located in a structure removed from the main restaurant, isolating workers from the support of fellow workers.

Possible Solutions

Here are some possible solutions to help decrease the likelihood of workplace violence in a restaurant:

  • Use drop-boxes, if available, to deliver food to customers, especially late at night.
  • Keep the back door locked unless you are receiving deliveries.

Safe Work Practices

There are several safe work practices your employer can do to protect you. Here are a few things:

  • Follow child labor laws that restrict workers younger than 16 years old from working after 7 p.m., except from June 1st through Labor Day, when evening hours are extended to 9 p.m.
  • Do not leave young workers alone at night to lockup.
  • Install bulletproof glass and limited access barriers for drive-through windows.
  • Increase workplace safety by installing video surveillance, alarm systems, and door detectors.
  • Increase lighting in low-lit areas, such as parking lots and around trash dumpsters.
  • Locate drive-thru windows within the same building as the restaurant, rather than in the parking lot by itself.

3. What is the best location for drive-thru windows to help avoid workplace violence?

a. In another parking lot
b. Near the front door
c. Do not have a drive-thru
d. Within the same building as the restaurant

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Prolonged Standing

mats

Employees can be exposed to prolonged standing while working the drive-thru window. This can cause stress and strain to the workers’ back and legs.

Possible Solutions

To relieve stress and strain to workers’ backs and legs, try the following things:

  • Wear shoes with well-cushioned insteps and soles.
  • Avoid static postures by continually moving your position. Use the foot rest bar or a low stool to help alter your posture by raising one foot and then the other.

Safe Work Practices

Employers should consider implementing recommended safe work practices, including:

  • Provide stools or a foot rest bar at work stations.
  • Provide anti-fatigue mats. They help contract and expand muscles of the person standing on them increasing blood-flow and reducing fatigue.

4. Which of the following is a good safe work practice for prolonged standing at drive-thru windows?

a. Provide anti-fatigue mats
b. Do not wear shoes
c. Wear sandals
d. Rotate workers

Next Section

Car Exhaust

exhaust
Employees may be exposed to high levels of car exhaust in a drive-thru.

Employees may be exposed to high levels of car exhaust in a drive-thru. Automobile exhaust contains harmful pollutants, mainly carbon monoxide which decreases the ability of the blood to absorb oxygen in the lungs. Inhaling high levels and concentrations of carbon monoxide can lead to poisoning. Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause the following symptoms:

  • headache
  • fatigue
  • flu-like symptoms
  • potential heart problems, including:
    • chest pain
    • irregular heartbeat
    • cardiac arrest

Possible Solutions

Here is a possible solution to decrease the exposure to car exhaust:

  • Keep the drive-thru window closed as much as possible to limit exposure.

Safe Work Practices

Employers should consider implementing safe work practices, including:

  • Provide adequate space and ventilation.
  • Use a reverse-flow fan system to prevent exhaust from entering the interior drive-thru area.
  • Rotate workers to minimize the time spent in the drive-thru area.

5. Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause _____.

a. headaches
b. fainting
c. vomiting
d. breathing trouble

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