Starting and maintaing a successful restaurant operation is no easy task. It’s no secret that most restaurants do not survive beyond three years. There are a multitude of factors to consider when starting or running a restaurant, such as menu items, interior decorations, marketing, and location. Even with all of those elements perfected, a single mishap can lead to the permenant closure of the business.

A key factor to success is to be ready for emergencies such as fires, food spoilage and liquor-related lawsuits. You can prepare by completing a risk analysis to determine what areas need attention. A carefully thought out risk management plan can decrease the chances of experiencing a devastating claim.

In the list below, we will go over risk management strategies for restaurants.

1. Follow Safety and Health Codes

Regulations and codes may vary from city to city, so verify with your local health department first. Make sure to be familiar with the codes so you are prepared for possible inspections.

Most common areas to consider are:

  • Health inspections – Passing health inspections is crucial to staying open for business.
  • Safety equipment – Equipment can include the AES (Automatic Extinguishing System), portable extinguishing system, wet floor signs, etc.
  • Food storage – Codes may lay out how certain types of food must be stored. Be sure to know what they necessitate.
  • Employee cleanliness – Simple acts such as washing hands and covering mouths while sneezing go a long way to maintain proper hygiene
  • Cleaning supplies – Codes may outline which cleaners can be used on various surfaces. They may also note how often they must be cleaned.

Creating a safe and clean environment for your employees and customers will help avoid being charged with violations, or worse, sued.

2. Equipment maintenance

Being stuck with a broken piece of equipment when it really matters can be frustrating. Non-functioning equipment could also potentially lead to lost business or more serious problems, like fires.

Check the following equipment regularly:

  • Kitchen exhaust hoods – Regular maintance and cleaning of the exhaust hood can reduce grease build-up. Reducing grease build-up may increase the hood’s efficiency and reduce the chances of a fire spreading beyond the kitchen area.
  • Refrigeration equipment – Properly operating refrigerators are important to minimizing food spoilage, which can lead to downtime for the business. Additionally, it can lead to foodborne illnesses which can result in costly lawsuits.
  • Cooking equipment – A malfunctioning fryer or griddle can be a fire hazard and lead to customer or employee injury.

You can also protect equipment with commercial property coverage. If you equipment is stolen or damaged from a fire, commercial property insurance can pay to replace or fix the piece of equipment.

3. Premises maintenance

Injury can be caused by poor maintenance of the facility. Take these steps to reduce the chances of a customer or employee getting hurt:

  • Keep floors clean and dry – Spilt fluids can pose a slipping hazard which can cause serious injury to customers or employees. Taking steps to make sure floors are clean and dry will reduce slip and fall incidents.
  • Keep kitchens clean – A kitchen free of clutter will minimize chances for employee injury or possible kitchen fires. Make sure knives and other utensils are properly stored to minimize possible injury. Clean ovens and grills may reduce chances of fires, so check these regularly.

If an employee is injured while on the job, workers compensation insurance can pay for medical expenses and more.

On the other hand, if a customer is injured while at your restaurant, the commercial general liability insurance can pay for legal costs arising from lawsuits in addition to medical bills.

4. Leverage Technology

Modern technology gives provides us with convenience and security. However, operating them presents new exposures to risks. For example, a restaurant’s POS (point-of-sales) device may be a source of risk for customer information theft. Take these steps to minimize cyber related crimes:

  • Protected Wi-Fi network – Offering public wireless interenet access is a great way to get customers into your establishment. However, this can be a security weak point. You can keep your network safe from criminals by offering Wi-Fi access to paying customers only.
  • Anti-virus protection – Firewalls and anti-virus software can help prevent malware or viruses from attacking business computer systems.

Cyber risks can also be met with cyber liability insurance. Cyber liability insurance can pay for notifications to victims, legal costs related to lawsuits, and more.

5. Train Employees

Employees can be a restaurant business’ largest expense and is critical to the business’ success. Therefore, you want to make certain that they are operating at their best while keeping them safe. Employees also can help avoid potential problems quickly with proper training. These areas to focus on include:

  • Food handling procedure – Hold regular training sessions going over proper food handling procedures.
  • Customer service procedure – Problem resolution is important to keeping patrons satisified. Employees should be trained to handle complaints in addition to if and when the problem needs to be escalated to a manager.
  • Alcohol serving procedure – If alcohol is served on your premises, having alcohol serving training in place is important because your business may be responsible for intoxicated customers. Take steps to train employees on identifying intoxication, refusing service and handling intoxicated customers. Use available resources, such as TIPS, to set-up procedures for your alcohol-serving business.
  • Safety procedure – Create and share steps taken in the event of an emergency, such as a robbery, fire injury.

A properly trained employee will increase customer satisfaction and safety and reduce chances of litigation.

Restaurant Insurance

Taking precaution by setting up risk management techniques can still result in unexpected events. As a result, business insurance is an important piece of the restaurant risk management plan. Insuring your restaurant business with a tailored insurance policy can cover a customer’s food sickness incident  or an employee’s slip and fall.

You can learn more about restaurant insurance here.

Your employee was injured at work. What next?

When your employee is injured on the job, it is important to move quickly in providing medical attention and opening a workers compensation claim. Doing so will help minimize the total cost and the severity of the injury.

Following these three steps will help employers plan ahead and be prepared in the event of an injury.

Step 1 – Preparedness is key

Business owners can prepare by finding ways to prevent workplace injuries. In the event one occurs, finding ways to respond quickly is critical. These preventative and response methods include:

Planning to prevent injuries is the best way for business owners to reduce risk. However, prevention is not always possible, so preparing for the worst is essential.

Step 2 – Respond quickly after injury

  • Evaluate the scenario – Move the injured to a safe place and evaluate the injury. Take note of the severity of injury and what caused the accident.
  • Help the injured – If the injury is minor – such as scrapes, cuts and burns – treatment using first aid supplies may be all that is required. If the injury necessitates more serious treatment, seek professional help or emergency medical services.
  • Complete an incident report – Collect and keep information and any evidence relating to the incident as quickly as possible. Write down the details of the incident and secure witness statements. Gather evidence of the incident by collecting surveillance video, photos, equipment, etc. Incident reports should be made even if employees say they are fine. They may seek medical attention later in time.

Being prepared to respond to an accident will help lessen panic, thereby allowing business owners to remain calm and collected.

Step 3 – Stay committed to communicating and following through

Business owners should work along with their employee on opening a workers compensation claim with the insurance company.

Keep in mind that it is favorable to the business owner if he or she maintains communication with all parties related to the incident. This includes the claims adjuster, insurance agent and injured employee.

In the event the injured employee sues, it is important to maintain open communication. More specifically, business owners should provide attorneys and adjusters with information and documentation relating to the claim. Settling a claim early in the process can prevent an expensive, drawn out lawsuit.


Taking steps to prevent workplace injuries from occurring in the first place will help avoid expensive claims and potential litigation. However, if an injury does occur, being prepared and responding quickly can help minimize the severity of the injury and protect the employer.

If you have any questions, please contact us here.