When an accident happens, it costs money to bounce back. It makes sense to build a program of protocols and best practices that create a culture of safety.

When an employee at your restaurant is injured, everyone gets hurt, including the business owner. For starters, medical bills and insurance premiums go up, and employee morale goes down. For those of you wondering what you can do to prevent this, building a culture of safety is key to reversing the trend.

If you’re asking what a culture of safety is, the answer is creating a series of safety best practices that benefit your individual operation and staff, and receiving the complete buy-in of the program from both your employees and executive team. It could be anything as simple as requiring your employees to wear a cutting glove or slip-resistant shoes to keeping the workspace clean to more involved rules and procedures.

Create your own safety culture. Attend our Risk & Safety conference next month!

From a bottom-line perspective, it only makes sense to create a culture of safety at your restaurant, says Gary Lindsey, a partner at Hotchkiss Insurance Agency. First and foremost, he notes, accidents are disruptive, and second, the frequency and severity of them will increase without it. There needs to be an investment in safety.

“When an accident happens, it costs money to bounce back from it – through morale or deductibles – and depending on what the insurance situation looks like, medical,” he says. “In addition, putting protocols in place could not only help you avoid the accident in the first place, it also could position you better in the court of public opinion and actual court should you find yourself in that situation.”

Most important, says Kurt Leisure, Cheesecake Factory’s vice president of risk services and asset protection, you have to take a methodical approach to building your culture of safety and put in solutions that will live on within the concept and culture. If not, you won’t see results, nothing will work, and everyone will be frustrated.

How do you accomplish that? Here are Leisure’s five quick tips:

  1. Figure out how to make it specific to your particular brand.
  2. Get into the mindset of your hourly staff so you can create a level of adoption.
  3. Sit down with your hourly staff members and ask what they think the right solution is. A lot of the great ideas we’ve put into place at our company have come from them. It’s so rare for people actually sit down and talk to the staff doing the job to figure out if there’s a better, safer way to execute something.
  4. Conduct a pilot program where you train your staff until you can ensure they embrace it. If it’s not working the way you want, tweak it until it does.
  5. Only roll it out nationally after you understand what is working and what really is not.

Lindsey says to succeed you must:

  • Determine where your hazards lie. Is it slips and falls, grease transfer, cuts and burns or all of those? Figure out what your vision is and what you need to do to operate a safe environment
  • Surround yourself with quality people, and believe your plan will not only work, but also generate a return. Start from the top down, he says, and engage all team members in your plan to make it a reality.
  • Understand that a policy not enforced is worse than no policy at all.

The last thing you want is to have someone getting injured, who ends up missing work, says Ty Miyahara, field human resource manager for Peter Piper Pizza.

“Resaurant companies have to be more proactive about creating safe environments,” he says. “Some out there are doing great things, but there are still some opportunities for us where we can share ideas and really help other organizations improve.”

Register today to attend the National Restaurant Association’s Human Resources & Risk and Safety conference, Feb. 12-14, in Dallas, where Kurt Leisure and Gary Lindsey will be featured speakers on the topic of building a safety culture.