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Stay safe on the job: common risks in the hospitality industry


While many Australians enjoy a well-earned break over the Christmas period, hospitality staff are often at their busiest.

Work Christmas parties, holidaymakers, New Year's revellers — the December-to-January period can see restaurant, bar and café staff working longer hours than usual to keep up with the demand during this peak time of year.

A combination of fatigue and stress can increase the likeliness of hospitality staff suffering injuries at work.

Common risks in hospitality

Slips, trips and falls are the most common injuries sustained by hospitality workers. Injury to the buttocks and lower back can occur more regularly than others, while more serious falls can break bones or worse.

Manual handling, like lifting heavy food stock or liquor, is a common cause of back strain for hospitality workers across the industry.

Repetitive strain injuries can also occur in hospitality staff working long hours carrying out the same task.

Staff can also suffer afflictions like ‘Chef’s Foot’ and other related foot conditions, owing to long hours spent working on their feet.

Chef and kitchen staff injuries

Chefs and kitchen staff are especially at risk of falling injuries. Kitchen floors are often slippery due to a combination of liquid, grease and other substances.

Kitchen staff may suffer cuts due to knife usage, along with burns during cooking.

Common wait staff injuries

Waiters work long hours and can often be frequently shifting body position as they move through their restaurant or café. This variation increases the possibility of suffering strains, particularly around the ankle.

Bartender injuries

Bartenders and bar staff often work late hours. Being tired on shift can cause staff to make mistakes and suffer an injury.

Working with intoxicated patrons, staff in licensed venues are at an increased risk of being assaulted or abused.

Health and safety in hospitality

Hospitality staff have the right to a safe work environment. Casual, part-time and full-time staff are all equally entitled to this right.

Employers are legally responsible for identifying and managing risks. Managed risks include precautions such as anti-slip mats in kitchens and bars, wet floor signs and minimum rest periods for staff.

If you’ve been injured at work:

  • Report your injury to your employer immediately.
  • Visit a qualified medical practitioner as soon as possible. You’ll need medical evidence to prove your injury was work-related.
  • Lodge a claim with your employer’s insurer.
  • Consult a workers compensation lawyer to access your entitlements.

Had an accident in the hospitality industry? Contact Shine Lawyers

If you’ve been injured in your hospitality job, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses as well as any lost earnings.

Shine Lawyers' Workers Compensation team will meet with you for an obligation-free consultation — we will explore all your legal entitlements and help protect your rights. Contact us today to determine your rights and start your claim.

Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: November 17, 2020.

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