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Injury Prevention and Management in Hospitality

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The hospitality industry is one of the largest industries in Australia, and is made up of accommodation, hotels, clubs, cafés, and restaurants. It employs 1.9 million people in Australia, but in NSW alone the industry employs more than 143,900 people in over 10,000 businesses.

Hospitality is a dynamic and customer-focused industry covering a range of occupations, such as waiters, cooks, kitchen hands, bar attendants, and commercial cleaners. This means it needs flexible and relevant solutions to occupational health and safety (OH&S) training.

OH&S injuries in this industry aren’t as obvious as in other high-risk industries, like manufacturing and construction, but they do occur frequently. This article will look at a range of injury statistics, and key safety tips for occupations in the hospitality industry.

Injuries and injury statistics

The hospitality industry employs the largest number of young people (aged 15-24), therefore its injury data may be modest compared to the real situation. The most common OH&S injuries in the industry are sprains and strains, muscular stress, and fractures.

The most common areas of the body that get injured as a result of slips, trips and falls in Victoria are:

  • Head – Skull fractures and concussions.
  • Shoulders (7%) – Muscle strains, traumatic joint injuries and fractures.
  • Feet and toes (7%) – Fractures and traumatic joint injuries.
  • Arms, wrists and fingers (12%) – Fractures, traumatic joint injuries and muscle strains.
  • Back (13%) – Muscle strains and fractures.
  • Hips, knees and ankles (46%) – Muscle strains, fractures and traumatic joint injuries.

In food and beverages manufacturing in Victoria, here are the areas of the body that are most commonly injured:

  • Abdominal region (4%) – Muscle strains.
  • Legs (4%) – Muscle strains and traumatic joint/muscle injuries.
  • Ears (5%) – Hearing loss.
  • Arms (5%) – Muscle strains.
  • Knee (8%) –Traumatic joint injuries and muscle strains.
  • Forearms and wrists (9%) – Muscle strains and nerve injuries.
  • Shoulders (13%) – Traumatic joint/muscle injuries and strains.
  • Hands and fingers (16%) – Open wounds, lacerations and burns.
  • Back (21%) – Muscle strains.

Causes of injuries

The most common causes of slip, trip and fall injuries include:

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  • Falling off ladders and other equipment.
  • Rough, uneven, and damaged floor surfaces.
  • Wet and slippery floor conditions.
  • Tripping over objects and equipment.
  • Using steps, ladders, stairs and work platforms.
  • Trucks/vans and steps.

On the other hand, the most common causes of injuries in food and beverages manufacturing are:

  • Lifting and handling large, heavy objects and equipment.
  • Using knives and cutlery or mechanical cutting equipment.
  • Long-term exposure to loud noise.
  • Slips, trips, and falls.
  • Repetitive work.

Safety tips

If you’re an employer working in the hospitality industry, you should have safety solutions in place in order to protect your employees from injuries. You should also work together with your employees and OH&S staff to determine which solutions are the most effective for your workplace.

Here are some safety tips to reduce the risk of injury and manage safety in your workplace:

a) Slips, trips and falls

  • Use slip-resistant mats on floors that are exposed to grease, oil, ice, and dust.
  • Remove objects and materials from walkways.
  • Contain and clean up spills and leaks quickly, and fix their causes.
  • Have employees wear personal protective equipment when cleaning.
  • Ensure floor surfaces are clean, level, well-lit, and well maintained.
  • Ensure steps, ladders, stairs, and handrails meet Australian Standards.
  • Make sure there’s sufficient lighting around stairs, ladders, and access ways.
  • Use mobile steps with handrails and work platforms for reaching objects and performing work above shoulder height.
  • Place edge protection on access platforms.
  • Have a rule for not carrying objects on stairs.
  • Retrofit trucks and vans with retractable steps and a handrail.
  • Install weather protection over walkways, entrances/exits, loading bays, and car parks.

b) Lifting and handling

  • Use height-adjustable work platforms, conveyors, and tables.
  • Use automated feeding devices.
  • Use vacuum lifters, automatic tippers, overhead cranes and hoists for heavy lifting.

c) Repetitive work

  • Use automated bottling, labelling and packing systems.
  • Use auto pallet stretch wrapping machines.
  • Use automatic fill, weigh and seal systems.

d) Cuts and lacerations

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  • Place guardrails around machinery to prevent access to hazardous areas.
  • Train employees in the selection, use, and sharpening of knives.

e) Noise

  • Make sure employees aren’t exposed to noise exceeding the national exposure standard.
  • Remove the source of the noise, use quieter plant/processes or implement engineering controls.
  • Put up warning signs in areas with loud and repeated noise.
  • Wear hearing protection.

OH&S employee induction checklist

As an employer, it’s also important to ensure the health and safety of new employees by providing them with the necessary training, instruction, information, and supervision in the form of an OH&S Employee Induction Checklist. This will introduce new employees to the basic principles of occupational health and safety to assist in the prevention of injury in the workplace.

The checklist can be used by those who recruit, train, develop and supervise new employees, including managers, supervisors, trainers, and mentors. It can also be useful for new employees in regards to identifying OH&S skills and knowledge that may be required of them in the workplace.

The OH&S Employee Induction Checklist can be adapted and used in different ways to suit the needs of your organisation. For example, you can use it to:

  • Provide training guidance and OH&S skills and knowledge.
  • Establish a framework for planning and presenting on-the-job training.
  • Support the development of comprehensive OH&S training courses.
  • Assist in the development of employee competency achievements or progress records.

The checklist also outlines six key topic areas that new employees should know about, which are:

  1. OH&S legal responsibilities, key players and penalties.
  2. OH&S consultation and information.
  3. Risk management and reporting.
  4. Common hospitality industry hazards.
  5. Emergencies in the hospitality industry.
  6. Workplace injury management and compensation.

You can find an example checklist here: http://www.workcover.nsw.gov.au/formspublications/publications/Documents/occupational_health_and_safety_hospitality_employee_induction_checklist_4150.pdf

By knowing what kind of injuries occur in the hospitality industry and what causes them, you can take preventive measures and make your workplace safe. Following the safety tips above and using an OH&S Employee Induction Checklist can further improve your work processes and help you to manage the risk of injury, as well as ensure the safety and wellbeing of your employees.

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