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Common hazards for restaurant wait staff

On Behalf of | Apr 4, 2024 | Workers' Compensation

Working as wait staff in a restaurant is challenging. It requires long hours on your feet, memorizing daily specials and complicated orders and carrying heavy trays.

It can also be highly rewarding for the right person. Still, it’s crucial for wait staff to be aware of the various hazards they can encounter in the workplace.

Slips, trips and falls

The most common hazard facing wait staff is the risk of slips, trips and falls. Spilled liquids, tight spaces and other people moving can turn the dining and kitchen areas into an obstacle course. These incidents can lead to severe injuries, including fractures, sprains and concussions.


Stoves, ovens and steamy dishes are part of the wait staff’s daily life. Carrying hot plates and beverages to tables exposes them to possible burns.

Cuts and lacerations

Wait staff routinely slice lemons for drinks, open wine bottles and handle knives, glassware and other sharp objects. Depending on the situation, accidental cuts can range from minor to severe.

Musculoskeletal injuries

Carrying heavy trays, bending, and twisting to navigate through tight spaces, and standing for long periods can contribute to musculoskeletal injuries. Back pain, joint strain, and repetitive stress injuries are common among restaurant staff. 

Exposure to chemicals

Maintaining a clean and sanitary environment is paramount in restaurants, but it exposes wait staff to various cleaning chemicals. These substances can be harmful if inhaled or may cause skin irritation.

Mental health challenges

The fast-paced, high-pressure environment of a restaurant can take a toll on anyone’s mental health. Wait staff often face demanding customers, high expectations from management, and the need to multitask under time pressure. These stressors can lead to burnout, anxiety, and depression. 

The restaurant industry comes with multiple hazards. Owners and managers need to implement measures to mitigate the risks and ensure a safer and more enjoyable workplace for everyone. Any wait staff who have been injured at work may be eligible to receive worker’s compensation to cover medical expenses and lost wages while they recover.