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Why the High Number of Workplace Injuries in Hospitality?

It may surprise you to learn that hospitality is one of the most injury-prone professions in the United States (a list of other industries with an unexpected number of workplace injuries can be found here). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that for every 100 full-time workers in hospitality 3.4 are injured or fall ill each year because of a workplace accident. Of those injured or ill, over half require time off work to recover.

The total number of workplaces injuries in hospitality is higher than in manufacturing, warehouses, and other industrial work.

Given there are several million people working in the hospitality industry, at hotels, restaurants, bars, and in tourism, the days off from a workplace injury amount to a lot of missed hours and uncovered shifts. What are the risks and hazards in the hospitality industry? Why does this industry experience a high number of workplace injuries each year?

Manual Handling or Pushing, Pulling, and Lifting

Throughout the hospitality industry employees are required to lift, push, and pull heavy inventory and objects. The result is that nearly 50% of all workplace injuries in the hotel industry, and similar numbers in bar and restaurant work come from manual handling.

When busing tables, you need to lift heavy bins of plates, cups, and silverware. Likewise, wait staff carries heavy trays from the kitchen to table many times a day. If you are working in housekeeping, you constantly life mattresses, push heavy cleaning carts and move furniture. Think bartenders have it easy? Part of their job is bringing up cases of wine and spirits from the cellar or storage and changing heavy kegs.

Each of these movements can cause workplace injuries if manual handling isn’t performed correctly or the employee becomes distracted during the task. And the musculoskeletal injuries that result from improper lifting, pushing or pulling take a long time to heal.

Ergonomic Injuries in Hotel and Restaurant Work

Another subset of workplace injuries common in hotels, bars, and restaurants are those arising from improper ergonomics. These workplace injuries are similar, but still distinct, from manual handling, and occur when an employee twists improperly, hurts a knee, shoulder, or back when bending down to wipe the floor, check under the bed, or reach for the last plate on the table.

Just as manual handling injuries can cause substantial time off work, ergonomic injuries to the muscles, joints, and tendons have a long recovery time. If an injury prevents you from working for seven days or more, you are entitled to file for workers’ compensation disability benefits in New Jersey. Uncertain how to claim workers’ compensation for your hospitality work injury? A New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney can help.

Slick Floors and Spilled Drinks

In the hospitality industry, the very simple act of walking can lead to workplace injuries. There are frequent spills and slick floors in bars, restaurants, cafes, and coffee shops. These spills are a constant hazard both to patrons and employees. The risk of slips, trips, and falls is even more serious when carrying heavy trays and full busing tubs through a restaurant or bar.

Another frequent hazard in hospitality establishments is uneven surfaces. For example, restaurants and bars can have steps that aren’t all the same size or a loose floorboard. In particular, caterers and staff for special events are injured by uneven surfaces because they aren’t as familiar with the venue. 

Cleaning Products, Chemicals, and Other Fumes

Hazards involving heavy inventory or food products and wet floors probably came to mind as potential workplace injuries in hospitality. However, we are far less likely to associate respiratory problems and illnesses with working in a bar, restaurant or hotel. However, illnesses and injuries from inhaling cleaning products and other chemicals is an occupational hazard across hospitality professions.

Housekeepers and chefs are two roles with consistent exposure to chemicals and fumes. Working in housekeeping requires near constant interaction with cleaning products, some of which have a very strong odor and others are even caustic. These products can disrupt breathing and cause lifelong illnesses. Plus, some strong cleaning products can even cause chemical burns.

Working in a kitchen has similar hazards. A number of strong cleaning products are utilized to meet health and safety standards in a commercial kitchen. There is also the risk of inhaling smoke and fumes from burnt food or grease fires. As well, steam and fumes in the kitchen can result in burns.

What to Do After a Hospitality Job Injury?

If you were injured working in a bar, restaurant, café, hotel, or other establishments in New Jersey, you can file for recovery through workers’ compensation. Through workers’ compensation, you can receive compensation for emergency services, medical bills, and even physical therapy. Need assistance filing for workers’ compensation in New Jersey? Contact our experienced law office in southern New Jersey at 856-234-4023.



The information in this blog post (“Post”) is provided for general informational purposes only. This information may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this Post should be construed as legal advice from The Law Office of Albert J. Talone or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter.

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