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Food Service Workers Face High Rate of Injury

Saru Jayaraman, one of the country’s most outspoken activists for restaurant workers, is making a huge attempt to link two groups that don’t have a history of working together – organized labor and foodies.
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According to the SF Gate, her goal is to help improve the working conditions for the nation’s 10 million restaurant employees — those who are about twice more likely to be on public assistance than other Americans.

Our Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyers understand that about 1 in every 5 private sector worker is involving in some way in producing or delivering food. Still, this is the fastest-growing industry. On the other hand, 7 out of 10 of the lowest paying jobs in the country are in the food industry. In many areas of the country, line cooks are packing up and heading out because their pay isn’t even enough to cover their rent.

“The food system now isn’t a bad employer – it is the worst employer. The absolutely worst employer in the United States,” said Jayaraman.

Jayaraman has been on the front line of restaurant worker advocacy for years now, long before this was a mainstream issue. Last year, she published a book on sexism, racism and worker abuse in the industry. It received such a popular response that it scored spots on both PBS and HBO.

Americans seems to be on board in helping to get these workers a little more compensation for their efforts, agreeing with the raise in the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hr.

But it’s not just the low pay that’s dangerously affecting these workers. Recent studies point out the egregious way in which restaurant workers are treated in many cases. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there are approximately 10 million workers across the nation employed in food service. For these individuals, the most common type of injuries include lacerations and punctures, burns, sprains and strains as well as eye injuries.

“Failure to provide workers with access to care can result in lost productivity and the potential for serious injury–a situation every food service operator wants to avoid,” says David Collette, director of marketing, food service, Cintas.

According to studies from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), for every $1 spent in safety programs, businesses can save between $4 to $6 from costs associated with injuries and fatalities.

So, how do you help to fight against these common workplace injuries? It’s an excellent idea to start holding a monthly team meeting to discuss common dangers. Leaders should continuously gather employee ideas and feedback on workplace safety. Those behind the bar or behind the grill are aware of common issues in the kitchen. If management is made aware of these issues, then he or she can put the proper systems in place to remedy the situation.

Getting hurt can put an end to your restaurant career, especially if you were badly injured. You may not be able to work at all because of your injuries at a time when you are faced with very high medical bills. Fortunately, the law is designed to ensure that you do not get stuck with the financial costs associated with a work injury. It’s up to you, and the assistance of an experienced attorney, to pursue this law.

Contact Attorney J. Franklin Burns, P.C. for a free consultation. Call 1-404-303-7770 today.

More Blog Entries:

Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Claims: Injuries Must Arise From Employment, Georgia Workers’ Compensation Attorney Blog, January 14, 2014

Georgia Workers Risk Safety in Cold Weather Extremes, Georgia Workers’ Compensation Attorney Blog, January 8, 2014