Injured Food Service Workers Out on Average 30 Days, Report Says

Liz Carey

Editor’s Note: This story is a follow up to a report that originally ran here on December 19, 2018.

Cleveland, OH (WorkersCompensation.com) – A new report shows that food service workers injured on the job are out for, on average, 30 days, but can be out for more than a year, depending on the type of food service facility, the time of year and the state the employees are working in.

The report, the AmTrust Financial Restaurant Risk Report, is the first such report from AmTrust Financial and looks at restaurant claims data for the past five years.

Workers in barbecue places statistically have the longest average number of days lost due to injury. Based on the company’s look at claims data between 2013 and 2017, barbecue employees have the highest days lost. In the strains by lifting category, BBQ restaurants averaged 392 days of lost time, double the average for any other restaurant, mostly from hernias and ruptured shoulders.

And those working in coffee shops had the highest overall lost time – 45 percent higher than other restaurants. Most of those injuries were not burns and scalds, but wrist injuries. For coffee shop employees, the average number of days lost to wrist injuries was 366 days.

Repetitive motion injuries, like “barista wrist”, the report said, are common in food service workers, and result in the most number of days off.

Jbernardshaw, a former barista, said on Reddit that he had experienced barista wrist. For him, doctor recommended exercises were key to improving.

“I had really bad hand/wrist/forearm pain after my first year as a barista. I took a break and consulted a doctor when I moved to New York, who gave me a stiff wrist splint and some exercises to help. His main advice, of course, was to knock out it altogether. Which is impossible. Two years later and I’m starting to feel it again,” he posted in September. “Here’s my advice: Lock your wrist and forearm to push out and in … Use a relaxed wrist with your elbow pointing straight up to tamp. To stretch, hold your arm in front of you, fingers pointing up. Grasp your fingers with your other hand and pull back for 20 seconds. Do the same with the fingers pointing down. Do each stretch twice on both wrists.”

Starbucks press office did not respond to texts and calls seeking comment on this piece.

According to AmTrust’s data, cuts, scrapes and punctures account for a third of the claims of injury across all restaurant types. However, in terms of costs, injuries from slips and falls cost 4.5 times more than injuries from cuts and scrapes. Those injuries, amounted to nearly $200 million in losses over the study’s five year term, the company said.

On average, those injured from slips and falls take 32.7 days to return to work, compared 35 days for those injured while lifting, and 18.3 days for those injured by cuts. Data showed that those injured in motor vehicle accidents were out on average for 45.4 days, while those injured through burns or scalds were only out for 17.5 days.

The length of time out of work varied greatly based on what state the employee worked in. States like Ohio, Michigan, North Dakota, Wyoming and Washington had the least amount of time lost on average, while states like Vermont, New Jersey, Indiana, Mississippi and Idaho had the highest average for time lost by injured employees.

Injuries can be prevented, the company said, through a variety means.

“To reduce claims and keep employees safer, we need to provide restaurant operators with tools to help prevent and minimize the impact of injuries,” said Jeff Corder VP, Loss Control AmTrust Financial.

Employers can work with employees, he said, to reduce risk by:

  • Making cut gloves available for any staff member handling knives
  • Ensuring slip–resistant mats with beveled edges are placed in wet areas
  • Providing lifting aids, such as carts, for employees when possible
  • Stocking a first–aid kit that staff can easily access, and
  • Training employees to ensure that emergency exit paths are clear at all times

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union did not respond to calls and emails for comment.

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