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Young Worker Safety in Restaurants
Strains and Sprains
Automatic Dishwasher - Burns and Scalds
Unwashed Sharps - Cuts Strains and Sprains
Automatic Dishwasher - Electrical Hazards
Automatic Dishwasher - Hazardous Chemicals
Wet Floors - Slips/Trips/Falls

The Clean-up area of a restaurant offers young workers an opportunity to learn clean-up duties while handling various equipment and products. Young workers in this area may also be exposed to the following hazards:
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Safety Poster
Potential Hazard

Worker clearing off trays
Restaurant workers can be at risk for cuts while performing clean-up tasks, such as cleaning up broken glass, handling sharp utensils (like knives), clearing tables, washing dishes, or cleaning restrooms.

Possible Solutions

Young Worker Solutions

Employers have the primary responsibility for protecting the safety and health of their workers. Employees are responsible for following the safe work practices of their employers.
Worker sweeping with a broom into a dustpan
  • Use any personal protective equipment your employer provides, including special gloves for clean-up duties.

  • Use a broom and dustpan to clean up broken glass; do not use your hands.

  • Let a falling knife fall. Do not try to catch it.

  • Do not store knives and other sharp objects in sinks between periods of use. An unsuspecting person could reach in and get cut.
    • Clean the knife immediately after use or place it in a dishwasher or a container labeled "for knives only."

  • Exposure to used needles is a growing concern, as customers with diabetes and other illnesses may need to give themselves medications while in the restaurant. You can protect yourself from this hazard by doing the following:
    • Wear provided personal protective equipment, especially heavy-duty gloves, while cleaning the bathroom.
    • Do not touch any needles or drug items. If you see these anywhere, report it to your supervisor.
    • Do not compress garbage bags with your body (for example, stepping on a bag to smash it down); sharp items inside may stick or cut you.
    • Report immediately to your supervisor if you think you have been stuck or cut by a needle or any object that you believe has human blood on it.

Employer Solutions

Employers have the primary responsibility for protecting the safety and health of their workers. Employees are responsible for following the safe work practices of their employers.

Follow OSHA Standards including:
  • Provide and require employees to use appropriate hand protection if they are exposed to hazards such as cuts, lacerations, or puncture injuries. Hand Protection Standard (1910.138(a)).

  • Employees in restaurants are not generally considered to have exposure to human blood. If however, occupational exposure to human blood can be reasonably anticipated, then employers are required to comply with the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard.
Consider implementing recommended safe work practices, including:
Needle container
Needle container
  • Train all employees to respond to any situation where used needles are discovered by avoiding contact and calling their supervisor.

  • Consider providing needle disposal containers in restaurant bathrooms as a customer service for those guests who self-administer injectable medications. This enables them to properly dispose of the device and protects employees from accidental needlesticks.

  • Send any employee who sustains a needlestick or injury from a sharp that has human blood on it for emergency medical evaluation. Time is critical!
books For more information on knife safety, see Food Preparation - Knives and Cuts.

Additional Resources

Accessibility Assistance: Contact the OSHA Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 693-2300 for assistance accessing PPT materials.

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