Working in a restaurant is a demanding job, but it can lead to a decent paycheck. You don’t necessarily even need a high-school degree to work as a cook or a member of the wait staff at a restaurant. You could earn a very competitive wage while simultaneously developing a strong work history that helps you support yourself.
Unfortunately, restaurant work is not without its risks. You could potentially get hurt on the job and find yourself unable to keep working. Between that potentially aggressive patrons, spilled drinks that could make you slip and cooking implements like knives and gas ranges, there are many opportunities for workers and restaurants to suffer serious injuries.
Currently, your workplace injury risk may be at the highest point that it has been for multiple years.
Restaurant worker injuries have increased after years of stability
Any individual could suffer an unexpected incident at any time, so the best way to determine the overall risk of a particular industry is to track trends on a large-scale basis. Looking not at each individual worker but rather at the overall number of injuries that occur is a good way to estimate the safety of a specific industry.
According to data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, full-service restaurant workers have a slightly higher-than-average risk for a lost-time incident after a work-related injury or illness. In any industry, 86.9 workers out of every 10,000 full-time workers lost time due to an injury. In restaurant settings, that number goes up to 88.3 injuries per 10,000 workers.
Although that may not seem like a significant deviation, it is still noteworthy because it represents a sharp increase from the 2018 figures. In 2018, there were only 73.1 injuries reported per 10,000 workers. After several years of stable or even declining injury rates, the restaurant industry has since seen rates spike.
Restaurant employees often can’t work while injured
If you have a bandage on your hand, you can’t wash it as frequently as you need to for sanitation purposes when you work in a kitchen. If you have a broken leg from falling, you won’t be able to wait tables on crutches.
Foodservice workers who suffer injuries serious enough to require time off of work may require workers’ compensation. Often, restaurant workers don’t have medical insurance, so workers’ compensation helps pay for their treatment. They can also receive partial compensation for the wages they don’t earn while they recover.
Learning more about your risk for an injury on the job can help you avoid getting hurt or advocate for yourself if you do get hurt.