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Common workplace issues facing restaurant workers

Working in a restaurant can expose you to many hazards. Employers have a duty to provide you with a safe workplace, but this doesn't mean that there aren't going to be some dangers. When dangers are present, the employer must take reasonable steps to ensure that you are going to remain safe and to warn you of the potential issue.

The area of the restaurant where you work might play a part in what hazards you are exposed to. Others are fairly common throughout the building. Here are some important points that you must know about your right to have a safe work environment in a restaurant:

Labor laws help to protect employees

Labor laws, including those for required rest breaks, help to keep employees safe and healthy. Being able to give your body a break from the strenuous work and from the hazards of the job enables you to come back to the job refreshed. All employers must comply with these laws so don't think that you can't be given the proper breaks just because the restaurant is busy. It is the employer's duty to properly staff the business in a way that allows employees to have this time off.

Variety of hazards facing restaurant employees

Around the restaurant, there are some unavoidable hazards. These include things like the burn risk from hot oil used to fry foods or the risk of being cut with a slicing machine. Employers should provide equipment that helps to keep employees safe, like oven mitts for working around the hot surfaces and protective gear to prevent cuts.

Some hazards aren't unavoidable. Place mats in areas that might become wet so employees don't slip and fall. Floors need to be kept free of obstacles that can trip someone. Goods and equipment must be placed in an area where employees can easily access them so nobody has to overreach or take unsafe measures to get the things they need.

Taking action when something is wrong

There are several things that you can do when you have a problem with the work conditions. In many cases, a good first step is alerting the employer. Some issues you might need to report include:

  • Unsafe work conditions so they can be corrected
  • Injuries so you can file for workers' compensation
  • Pay issues so you can receive your due wages
  • Harassment or discrimination so the problem can be addressed
  • Lack of breaks so you can have the rest you deserve during your shift

Coming together

When there are consistent or serious issues with an employer failing to provide a safe work environment, the workers of the restaurant may opt to come together to demand a safer work place. For example, if nobody is getting proper breaks, workers should learn about their rights and work with management to come up with a plan. In some cases, legal action may be in order.

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The Law Offices of Jeffrey E. Goldman
501 Fifth Avenue
Suite 1900
New York, NY 10017

Phone: 212-983-8999
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