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We’ve been doing some research on ways WorkCare’s injury prevention and management solutions can lower incident rates and help control costs in fast-paced industries.
When employees have to move quickly to meet customer demands, their risk of injury increases. Compared to those in less physically demanding jobs, they are more likely to take safety shortcuts, overlook hazardous conditions or make mistakes due to time pressure or fatigue. Employees in the accommodations and food services industry, including restaurants, are among those with these types of exposure risks.
Nationally, overall workers’ compensation claim frequency rates, including COVID-related claims, increased by nearly 3 percent in accident year 2021, according to the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI). In a report on workers’ compensation frequency and severity, Carolyn Wise and Kevin Fernes with the NCCI say the COVID‐19 pandemic and its economic impacts have affected claim trends across all industries. Accommodations and food services, like other types of businesses, have been impacted by closures, staff shortages, workforce repositioning, and the availability of more remote work and short‐tenure opportunities nationwide.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there were 2.7 recordable work-related injuries or illnesses per 100 full-time workers in accommodations and food services (NAICS 72) in 2021, the most recent reporting year, with 1.3 cases per 100 involving days away from work, job restrictions or transfer.
AmTrust Financial Services reports in its newly released 2022 Restaurant Risk Report that injury rates in restaurants declined overall in 2021, but certain types of work-related medical complaints increased significantly when compared to pre-pandemic numbers. Amtrust is a global specialty property and casualty insurer. The report features an analysis of nearly 170,000 claims over a 10-year period.
Restaurants Operator Challenges
AmTrust cites COVID-19 and “labor shortages, the great reshuffle and return to work” as underlying reasons for upticks in certain types of injuries in restaurants. “Restaurant workers can face high stress levels, especially with staffing shortages,” said Matt Zender, senior vice president, workers’ compensation strategy at AmTrust. “Restauranteurs should lean on their onboarding experience to ensure employee safety.”
AmTrust found that the most common restaurant worker injuries in 2021 were cuts, punctures and scrapes; slips and falls; burns and scalds; and muscle strains and sprains. Cuts were 30 percent more common than falls and cost an average of $1,519 per claim, while slips and falls cost an average of $10,041 per claim, a 410 percent difference. Over the 10-year study period, transportation-related injuries cost the most, averaging nearly $20,000 paid out per claim, or 1,215 percent more than cuts.
In addition, AmTrust reported the following percentage increases when comparing 2020 to 2021 restaurant-related workers’ compensation claim rates:
AmTrust also reviewed seasonal trends and found that more restaurant injuries occur in late spring and summer than other times of the year. In general, staff hired for the season in accommodations and food services may not receive the same level of training as year-round personnel who also gain experience on the job. In other studies, teenagers – who often work at fast-food restaurants, summer camps and in other part-time jobs – and have been found to have higher-than-average injury rates compared to other populations.
The AmTrust report includes injury prevention tips such as wearing protective gear (e.g., gloves, non-slip footwear, splatter shields and eyewear; removing trip hazards and promptly cleaning up spills; properly storing sharp objects and supplies; and reducing distractions. Training and safety reminders are encouraged.
WorkCare’s Industrial Athlete Program features in-person and virtual consultations on ergonomics, stretching and proper lifting techniques to help reduce risk of musculoskeletal disorders associated with strenuous and repetitive tasks, and guidance to manage physical discomfort and safely using work tasks to promote healing. They also provide recommendations to help manage stress, fatigue and exposure to extreme temperatures.
Our Incident Intervention Program offers telehealth triage to give supervisors and employees telephonic access to occupational nurses, physicians and industrial athlete specialists 24 hours-a-day in the event of a non-emergency, work-related injury. Our team provides self-care, first-aid guidance and referrals to offsite local providers for follow-up, as needed. Contact us to learn more.
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