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Making Sure Your Teenage Workers Are Safe

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Whether you own a greasy spoon, a Michelin-starred restaurant or something in-between, your staff is sort of like a diverse family—most likely with a few teenagers. As you already probably know, teenagers can sometimes be a handful, which can place them at risk for injuries. So, to ensure that your teenage staff are safe as they bus tables, take diners’ orders, serve food or work back in the kitchen, pass along these general safety tips to them:

  • Wear nonslip shoes.
  • Always follow safe work practices specific to your role, as directed by the manager or supervisor. While completing a task the safe way may be a bit slower, you’re much more likely to avoid being injured.
  • Ask plenty of questions—such as the following:
    • What is the best way for me to deal with angry diners?
    • What is the step-by-step process for each new task, practice or procedure?
    • Where are all the supplies I will need located?
    • What should I tell diners if the kitchen runs out of something?
    • What should I do if I have a problem with one of the other employees?
  • Tell the manager on duty, a parent or other adult if you feel threatened or endangered at work.
  • Always be aware of your environment. Even though it may be easy to become careless after your tasks have become predictable and routine, you should always remain aware of what you are doing.
  • Learn about which hazards are present in the kitchen and out on the floor, and take steps to prevent injury when around them.
  • Trust your instincts. If someone—regardless of who it may be—asks you to do something that makes you uncomfortable, check with your supervisor before doing it. Keeping yourself injury
    free is your number-one responsibility.
  • Stay sober. Besides the fact that it is illegal for underage employees to drink alcohol and consume drugs, they are more likely to hurt themselves and others.

If you’re concerned that you may have some gaps in your safety program for your teenage workers, consider checking out OSHA’s Young Worker Safety in Restaurants eTool, here https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/youth/restaurant.

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