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Safe Cleaning Tips to Protect Your Restaurant Customers

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Aug 28, 2021

Safe Cleaning Tips to Protect Your Restaurant Customers and help you save on restaurant insurance in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Allentown, Reading, Lancaster, Harrisburg, PA and points in between.The COVID-19 pandemic reminded restaurant owners and managers of the importance of proper sanitation - whether they’re running a food truck or a fine dining restaurant. So perhaps it’s a good idea to continue some of those additional precautions even as the mandates are lifted.

The fact is - COVID or no COVID – every restaurant should be kept clean for the safety of the business and its customers and employees. Dirty restaurants can lead to food-borne illnesses, making customers sick, which can lead to lawsuits, damaged reputations, and higher Restaurant Insurance costs.

Here is information to help ensure that your restaurant is adequately cleaned, sanitized, and disinfected to help prevent cross-contamination of food and the spread of germs and viruses.

Cleaning vs. Sanitizing vs. Disinfecting

Cleaning is removing visible debris and deposits – such as dirt and spills - on the surface using a vacuum, duster, degreaser, soap, or detergent. Cleaning does not eliminate germs.

After a surface is cleaned, sanitizing helps eliminate many microorganisms and reduce the growth of bacteria. Any surface that comes in contact with food – such as cutting boards, countertops, serving utensils, pots, pans, etc. - should be regularly sanitized. They should be sanitized whenever you’re switching to a different type of food or ingredient, when you’re done with one food prep task, or every four hours. Sanitizing kills 99.9% of bacteria.

Surfaces that are frequently touched – such as light switches, door handles, phones, cash registers, bathrooms, etc.– should be regularly disinfected using bleach or other disinfectant. You should disinfect at least once a day, but more frequently during cold and flu season or a virus outbreak. A disinfectant kills 99.999% of bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

How to Sanitize Food Prep Surfaces

WebstaurantStore suggests the following process:

  • Wipe the surface of any visible debris.
  • Rinse the surface with soap and clean water.
  • Sanitize the surface with a food-safe sanitizer, following the manufacturer’s directions.
  • Allow the surface to air dry for at least 30 seconds.

How to Disinfect Frequently Touched Surfaces

WebstaurantStore suggests the following process:

  • Wipe the surface of any visible debris.
  • Rinse the surface with soap and clean water.
  • Follow the directions on the disinfecting product you’re using, including how long to keep it on the surface and whether or not to rinse it off.

Restaurant Cleaning Checklist

A restaurant cleaning checklist can help ensure that all employees know what is expected and that cleaning tasks aren’t overlooked. The checklist should include both the kitchen and dining areas and have daily, weekly, and monthly tasks.

Prevent food poisoning

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends these four steps to avoid cross-contamination and food poisoning:

  • Clean (your hands, surfaces, fruits and vegetables, etc.)
  • Separate (cutting boards, food, etc.)
  • Cook to the right temperature
  • Chill – refrigerate promptly

CDC COVID-19 Guidelines Worth Continuing:

  • Urge employees to stay home if they don’t feel well.
  • Require employees to wash their hands frequently - particularly before, during, and after preparing food or after touching garbage. Employees should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Have enough supplies – soap, towels, no-touch trash cans, etc. – to support healthy hygiene.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as door handles, phones, cash registers, bathrooms, tables, chairs, etc.
  • Use touchless payment options.
  • Post signs and posters to promote healthy hygiene habits among the staff.

Save Even More on Restaurant Insurance!

The independent agents at American Insuring Group will compare competing restaurant insurance carriers to get you the right insurance coverage at the lowest price. So, give us a call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Restaurant Insurance Pittsburgh PA, Safety Programs, Restaurant Safety, Restaurant Insurance Costs

5 Tips to Minimize the Hazards of Commercial Deep Fryers

Posted by David Ross on Sat, May 29, 2021

Deep Fryer Safety Tips to help lower the cost of restaurant insurance in Philadelphia, Reading, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Erie, Lancaster, York, and throughout PennsylvaniaUsed properly, commercial deep fryers can result in delicious foods, but they can also cause injuries and damage, which increases Restaurant Insurance costs. Deep fryers are a staple in most restaurant kitchens. However, you can’t have a deep fryer without hot oil and grease, and both are powerful fuel sources and fire ignitors.

Hazards of Commercial Deep Fryers

Fire

Deep fryers are involved in about one in five restaurant fires. The FDNY reports that deep fryer fires cause an average of five deaths, sixty injuries, and more than $15 million in property damage every year.

Burns

The oil in commercial deep fryers is typically between 350- and 400-degrees Fahrenheit. Splashing oil can cause severe burns.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

If a vent hood or fryer exhaust isn’t adequately cleaned or functioning properly, carbon monoxide – an odorless, colorless gas – can quickly fill a kitchen, causing carbon monoxide poisoning.

5 Tips to Minimize the Hazards of Commercial Deep Fryers

1. Proper Training

To avoid an unsafe cooking environment, any employee that uses a deep fryer should be trained on the proper operation and cleaning of a fryer and fryer safety protocol. They should also be trained on appropriate PPP, such as goggles and thermal rubber gloves when operating a fryer. And all kitchen staff should be trained on what to do if there is a fire.

2. Proper Maintenance

A deep fryer and oil that are properly maintained are less likely to cause a problem and more likely to function correctly for longer. Plus, it can help your fried foods taste better. Always have fryers services according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Here are four maintenance tips from Wasserstrom:

  1. Maintain the oil by filtering oil at least once a day, using a skimmer, allowing oil to cool during slower times, shaking off ice crystals from food, and not salting food above the fryer
  2. Regularly clean fryer oil well
  3. Once a week or as needed, perform a full-tank cleanse
  4. Calibrate the fryer every three months

3. Keep Area Around Fryer Clean

Employees should be trained to maintain a clean area around the fryer at all times. Spilled oil on the floor can quickly become slippery, causing an employee to slip and fall, and dirty vent hoods can cause fires, so make sure those are regularly cleaned. Another way to minimize slippery floors is to invest in non-slip mats with holes and require employees to wear non-slip shoes.

It’s also important to keep plastic away from fryers as hot oil can quickly melt plastic, creating a hazard. Utensils used in fryers – such as spatulas and mesh skimmers – should be stainless steel – not plastic. Also, avoid using plastic equipment – such as buckets - to clean fryers.

4. Use Fryer Baskets

Use commercial-grade fryer baskets designed for your fryer to hold and drop food into the hot oil. Although many restaurant kitchens use the word “drop” to describe adding food to hot oil, actually dropping the food or a fryer basket into hot oil can cause the oil to splash out. Gently lower the baskets into the oil to avoid burning someone or creating a slippery floor.

5. Keep a Class K Fire Extinguisher

Water doesn’t put out oil fires. Therefore, a Class K fire extinguisher - made specifically for fires involving cooking media, such as fats, grease, and oils – should be easily accessible. And all employees should be trained on how to use a fire extinguisher properly.

Commercial deep fryers are a staple in most restaurant kitchens – from food trucks selling French fries to upscale restaurants serving fried quail eggs. Following these tips will help keep your employees and your kitchen safe and help improve your bottom line.

Get a Free Restaurant Insurance Quote!

The independent agents at American Insuring Group specialize in Restaurant Insurance, so we can make sure you have the right insurance at the lowest price. Give us a call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online to get a free insurance quote.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Restaurant Insurance Reading PA, Restaurant Safety, Restaurant Insurance Costs

The Real Cost of Employee Injuries in Restaurants

Posted by David Ross on Fri, Apr 23, 2021

Reduce your restaurant insurance costs in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Reading, Allentown and throughout PA with these tipsWorkplace injuries do more than increase your Restaurant Insurance costs. They cost your business in many other ways, such as lost productivity, lower morale, and more. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates the “total economic costs of work-related deaths and injuries” in 2019 at $171 billion, $1,100 per worker, and $1.2 million per death. Those figures include “income not received or expenses incurred because of fatal and nonfatal PREVENTABLE injuries.”

The good news – as the NSC points out – is that many of these injuries are preventable. Here are seven ways to minimize the risk of injuries – and the ensuing costs – in your kitchen. 

Suitable Attire

Ensuring your employees are appropriately dressed can go a long way to preventing accidents and protecting the quality of the food you serve. 

Providing or requiring closed-toed, non-slip shoes is essential to keeping workers safe in the kitchen. Closed-toed shoes help prevent cuts from falling knives and burns from hot oil. Non-slip shoes help prevent slips and falls. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 27% of the nonfatal work injuries in 2018 that resulted in days away from work were related to slips, trips, and falls. 

Personal Protective Equipment – such as gloves, oven mitts, and aprons – help prevent injuries such as burns. Properly-fitting uniforms - such as chef coats, cook shirts, and aprons – can help protect employees and minimize injuries. 

Professionally laundered uniforms have been shown to provide superior cleanliness as opposed to home washing machines. Hats and hairnets keep hair out of the way and prevent food from falling into the food. 

Non-Slip Mats

Again, 27% of work injuries result from slips, trips, and falls, and restaurant kitchens tend to be high-paced, busy places with employees constantly on the move. Therefore, anything you can do to keep your employees from slipping, tripping, or falling is essential to kitchen safety, making non-slip mats crucial for any restaurant kitchen. 

Proper Ventilation

“Having proper ventilation for your restaurant is imperative for employee and customer health as well as food sanitation,” FSR magazine states. “Improper ventilation can result in safety violations, higher utility bills, decreased employee productivity, and even flaring tempers from customers as well as employees. It can also result in loss of traffic due to unpleasant odors or uncomfortable conditions.” 

Fire Suppression System

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, “Restaurant fires accounted for about 6 percent of all nonresidential building fires reported to fire departments each year. These fires resulted in an average of less than one fatality per 1,000 fires, 11 injuries per 1,000 fires, and $23,000 in loss per fire.” 

Deep fryers are involved in one out of ten kitchen fires. Pouring water on a grease fire is not a good idea as it can cause the oil to splash and spread the fire, and the vaporizing water may carry grease particles, which can spread the fire further. 

Proper maintenance and cleaning of deep fryers help minimize the risk of fires, and installing a fire suppression system helps ensure that if a fire does occur, it is put out quickly and safely. 

Equipment Guards

Kitchen Equipment, such as mixers, grinders, and slicers, are an essential part of most commercial kitchens, but they also present a safety risk. In a fast-paced environment or without proper training, accidents can happen. An easy way to avoid cuts or amputations is installing appropriate guards that keep fingers and hands out of harm’s way. 

Appropriate Signage

Signage can draw attention to potential hazards – such as a wet floor – and prevent injuries. 

Proper Cleaning

Good sanitation should be a top priority in any kitchen. One uncleaned filter can cause a fire. A spill that isn’t immediately cleaned can cause an employee to slip and fall. 

Employees need to be trained on how to clean surfaces, equipment, and floors properly. Daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly cleaning checklists and schedules should be strictly adhered to. 

When Injuries Can’t be Prevented

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, an employee is injured. Or a customer gets sick from a foodborne illness. Or a fire damages your kitchen. The right insurance helps protect you, your business, your customers, and your employees. 

Give one of the experienced agents at American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online. Not only will we ensure you have the right insurance, but we’ll also ensure you get it at the lowest cost.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, workers comp insurance, Restaurant Insurance Reading PA, Restaurant Safety, Restaurant Insurance Costs

Minimize Food Delivery Risks for Lower Restaurant Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Mon, Mar 29, 2021

Minimize Food Delivery Risks for Lower Restaurant Insurance Costs in Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, Pittsburgh, Erie, PA and beyond.If you want to manage the cost of Restaurant Insurance, you must manage risk. Food delivery, which has skyrocketed since the pandemic began, poses new risks that need to be addressed. 

According to SevenRooms, two in five restaurants began offering food delivery services due to pandemic-related closures in 2020. Many turned to third-party delivery services as restaurants that did not formerly offer food delivery scrambled to adjust. 

In 2020, more than 45 million Americans used a food delivery app - a 25% increase over 2019. Between 2019 and 2020, Grubhub grew its customer base by 35%. On average, consumers have two delivery apps on their phones that they use three times per month. However, most off-premise orders - 78% -were still placed directly with the restaurant, and only 22% were placed through third-party platforms. 

Experts and three in ten restauranteurs do not expect the demand for food delivery to decrease significantly in 2021 once indoor dining is back to full capacity. So, whether you hire your delivery people or use a third-party, it looks like food delivery is here to stay. 

Two of the most significant risks with food delivery are food safety and food quality, which should always be a top priority with any restaurant. Ensuring the safety and quality of the food you serve in-house is challenging enough. Start shipping that food off with employees and third-party drivers in extreme weather conditions, and you have a whole new set of challenges. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to help minimize those risks. 

Temperature

When it comes to both safety and quality, temperature is a key component. To begin, you'll want to keep food safe before it's picked up. Timing drivers and food delivery isn't an exact science. Keep cold foods in the fridge or cooler and hot foods in a warmer, only transferring the food to the driver at the last possible moment. 

Then consider how you keep hot foods hot during frigid temperatures and cold foods cold during hot temperatures. You may need to invest in insulated food delivery bags, coolers, ice packs, food warmers, or heat packs. 

The packaging you use can also make a difference. For example, Styrofoam containers are good insulators and help keep food hot; however, they aren't considered as environmentally friendly as some of the other options. Aluminum foil also holds in heat, keeps steam from escaping, and is relatively inexpensive but not appropriate for all food types. On the other hand, a vented container helps reduce moisture buildup, which helps keep french-fries from becoming soggy. 

Hot food should never be packaged in the same container as cold food. At the most basic level, that means not putting ice cream and hot soup in the same bag. But also consider keeping foods within the same meal separate. For example, a cold salad with hot chicken might not fare too well in a 15-30-minute car ride, so you may want to consider keeping the chicken in a separate container and allowing the diner to mix the two. This will help minimize cross-contamination and result in a more tasty and appealing salad. 

Prevent Food Tampering

You know what it's like driving home with hot fresh French fries in your car. They smell so good, and your mouth begins to water. You can't wait to get home and dig in, and you may even "steal" a few fries to hold you over until you get home. Many food delivery drivers face the same temptation. 

Your customers would probably be shocked to discover that a survey conducted by US Foods found that nearly 30% of delivery drivers are snacking on the food they're delivering. Gulp! 30%! One way to avoid food tampering is with tamper-evident labels. If a driver tries to open a package with a tamper-evident label, the seal is broken, and it's clear the food has been tampered with. 

Choose Your Drivers or Third-Party Delivery Company Carefully

Hiring your own drivers gives you more control over your customers' experience, but finding good drivers can be challenging. Finding good drivers starts with the hiring process, developing specific protocols, and focusing on training. TouchBistro offers more tips. 

If you're working with a third-party delivery company, make sure drivers are provided appropriate equipment for maintaining temperatures and that they aren't making too many stops before delivering your food. Restaurant Clicks offers more tips. 

Get the Right Restaurant Insurance

Despite every precaution you take, things happen. A customer gets food contamination, one of your drivers is in an accident, someone hacks into your system and accesses customer data. 

The right Restaurant Insurance – such as Liability, Commercial Auto, and Cyber Insurance - will protect your business if/when something does happen. Give one of the American Insuring Group's independent agents a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Restaurant Liability Insurance, Restaurant Insurance Costs

PPE to Lower Insurance and Other Operating Costs in Restaurants

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Mar 13, 2021

PPE to Lower Insurance Costs in Restaurants in Cities Throughout PA, including Philadelphia, Reading, Pittsburgh, Lancaster, Lebanon, Harrisburg, Allentown and beyond.Restaurant Insurance helps protect your business if something bad happens. If a fire destroys your kitchen, Property Insurance will help you rebuild your kitchen. If an employee is injured on the job, Workers' Compensation Insurance will help pay for medical bills and lost wages and help protect you against accident-related lawsuits. 

Insurance is vital to any business's health and success, but wouldn't it be better never to have had a fire in your kitchen or an employee injured on the job? Benjamin Franklin had it right when he said, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."  

One way to prevent many workplace injuries and even help protect your customers is by providing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to your employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has PPE standards that require employers to provide specific PPE, but we recommend going beyond those basic requirements.  

While this will mean a higher up-front cost, you will make up much (if not more) of that cost by lower insurance costs, higher employee morale, productivity, fewer lost workdays, etc.  

What is Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?

OSHA defines PPE as "equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses. These injuries and illnesses may result from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical, or other workplace hazards."  

Standard PPE used by restaurant workers include the following:

  • Gloves – dishwashing, cut-resistant, and freezer
  • Oven Mitts
  • Aprons
  • Anti-Slip Shoes 

COVID-19 has introduced a new PPE requirement – masks. 

What is Appropriate PPE?

The best way to determine appropriate PPE for your employees is to look at any potential safety (knives, ovens, and slippery floors), ergonomic (repetitive tasks or heavy lifting), or other health hazards (noise, chemicals, heat, and stress).  

Once those hazards are identified, consider controls your restaurant can put in place to keep workers safe. OSHA recommends asking three questions. Here's an example. 

Many restaurant workers get burned cleaning fryers or lowering frozen food into deep fryers.  

  1. Is there a way to remove the hazard? Install grease pans that dump automatically for cleaning. 
  2. What improvement in work practices would help? Train workers on the importance of shaking ice crystals off frozen foods before putting them into the deep fryer to avoid splattering. 
  3. What protective clothing or equipment would help? Gloves, sleevelets, and long aprons. These need to resist heat and grease to at least 400º F for anyone working with fryers. 

Other PPE Considerations

PPE should be appropriately cleaned and maintained and should properly fit the employee using it. A PPE program should be implemented that addresses hazards and the selection, maintenance, and use of PPE. It should also include employee training and monitoring to ensure it is effective. 

Training should teach employees on the proper use of PPE, such as…

  • When PPE is needed
  • What PPE is necessary
  • How to put PPE on, adjust it, wear it, and take it off
  • The limitations of PPE
  • Proper care, maintenance, useful life, and disposal of PPE 

The proper use of PPE will protect your greatest assets – your employees, minimize injuries, and lower insurance costs.  

Another Way to Save on Restaurant Insurance

Another way to lower your Restaurant Insurance costs is to work with an agency – like American Insuring Group - specializing in Restaurant insurance. Our independent agents will compare your insurance cost with several companies to ensure that you pay the lowest price for your coverage.

Give us a call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online for a free Restaurant Insurance quote! 

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, workers comp costs, Restaurant Safety, Restaurant Insurance Costs

Opening a New Restaurant? Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Feb 06, 2021

Protect Your Restaurant with the right Restaurant Insurance in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Harrisburg, Allentown, Lancaster and all of Pennsylvania.You know what they say, “Hope for the best but prepare for the worst and make sure you have the right Restaurant Insurance!” Okay, we made that last part up, but it is true. 

One accident has been known to put restaurants out of business. So, before all of your hopes are dashed, think about how you can prepare for the worst. Thinking ahead will help you minimize the “worst” scenarios – such as fires, food spoilage, and accidents - and help ensure that you have the right insurance coverage if the “worst” does happen. 

Here are five things to consider to help you prepare for the worst. 

1. Employee Training

Yes, employee turnover rates in the restaurant industry are high. According to the National Restaurant Association, the restaurants-and-accommodations sectors' turnover rate was 74.9 percent in 2018. 

But it is also true that employees are your greatest asset and some of your highest risk. While we’re talking cliches… Your business is only as strong as your weakest link. Employees should be regularly trained on safety procedures, customer service, and - if your restaurant serves alcohol - alcohol service. 

Safety Procedures:

  1. Help avoid employee injuries by teaching proper lifting techniques, using equipment properly, appropriate personal protective equipment, etc.
  2. Keep your customers safe by training employees how to handle, prepare, and store food properly and what to do in the case of a fire, robbery, etc. 

Customer Service 

Help minimize litigation issues by providing customer service training to employees who interact with customers.

Alcohol Service

In Pennsylvania, it is against the law to serve alcohol to a "visibly intoxicated person," and your restaurant could be held legally responsible for injuries and damages caused by an intoxicated person you served. Any employee serving alcohol should know how to recognize and prevent intoxication and how and when to refuse service. 

One of the best ways to prepare for the worst is to have a comprehensive and on-going training program appropriate for each of your employees. 

2. Maintain Equipment

You rely on kitchen equipment to run your restaurant. If a refrigerator malfunctions, food could spoil, causing food loss or worse - foodborne illnesses. If your stove malfunctions, you won’t be able to cook food for your customers, or worse – it could cause a fire. The best way to avoid equipment breakdown is with proper maintenance. 

You should have daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly maintenance checklists that employees understand and follow, such as temperature checks on refrigerators and ice machines, cleaning schedules, inspection schedules, etc. Not only will this help your equipment last longer, but it will also help minimize unexpected breakdowns and potential disasters. 

3. Maintain Your Restaurant

Minimize the risk of property damage and injuries to customers and employees by maintaining your restaurant. Keep your kitchen – countertops, floors, equipment, etc. - clean to avoid grease fires, food contamination, and employee injuries. Keep aisles and exits clear of clutter. Address any tripping hazards, such as loose tile or worn carpets. Make sure outside walkways and parking lots are safe and promptly remove snow and ice following a storm. 

4. Follow Health and Safety Regulations

Every restaurant has a set of health and safety regulations issued by local, state, and federal entities they must follow. As a restaurant owner, you should be familiar with and understand those regulations or risk fines, a loss of reputation, or even possible closure. 

Standard regulations include employee hygiene, food storage, and equipment safety. Remember, those regulations are designed to keep everyone safe, so following them will also help ensure your employees' and customers' safety and the success of your business. 

5. Technology

Use technology to your advantage but also protect yourself from potential risks associated with technology. 

For example, security cameras can help protect your property from thieves and vandals and fraudulent Workers’ Compensation Insurance claims. A computer or point-of-sale device can save you time, allow you to accept credit cards, and store customer information that can be used for marketing purposes. But, in the wrong hands, that information can create problems for your restaurant, your employees, and your customers, so take steps to keep that information safe and secure. 

Be Prepared With the Right Restaurant Insurance!

Sometimes, despite your best-efforts, accidents do happen, so you need to be prepared. Insurance can help protect your business if you’re sued, experiences property damage, etc., so you can get back to business. 

American Insuring Group can help you prepare and, as experienced independent agents, help you obtain the lowest price for the right restaurant insurance coverage. We're independent, so we're free to shop among many competing insurance carriers, resulting in a lower price than you're likely to receive from single-brand agencies. Contact us today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Restaurant Insurance Costs

9 Tips to Reduce Your Restaurant Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Oct 17, 2020

Obtain affordable restaurant insurance in Philadelphia, Scranton, Erie, Pittsburgh, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Reading and beyond by following these tips.If you want to protect your restaurant, you need the right Restaurant Insurance coverage, but that doesn’t mean you need to pay a higher price for that coverage.

Here are nine smart tips from the independent agents at American Insuring Group to help you lower your insurance costs.

 

Focus on Safety

Having a safety program in place, along with proper safety training and enforcement, will create a safer restaurant and fewer claims, and restaurants with fewer claims are rewarded with lower insurance premiums. Check out our blog for tips to help you create a safer restaurant – from fire prevention to knife safety.

Improve Security

Insurance is all about risk. Lower the risk – whatever that may be fire, injuries, or theft – and you’ll lower your insurance costs. Here are a few security measures to consider:

  • Security alarm systems
  • Access control systems
  • Video surveillance cameras and video monitoring
  • Fire alarm systems
  • Fire sprinkler systems

Hire Wisely

Employees are one of your biggest assets and probably one of your biggest costs, but there are steps you can take to help lower insurance costs related to employees. For example, if an employee is going to drive one of your commercial vehicles, check their driving record before hiring. An employee with a bad driving record will increase your commercial auto insurance costs.

Also, make sure all of your employees are assigned the correct PCRB classification codes. These codes - based on the probability of an employee getting injured on the job - are used to calculate your Workers’ Compensation premium. If an employee is assigned a classification code meant for someone in a more dangerous job, you’ll end up paying more for WC Insurance. On the other hand, you don’t want an employee assigned a classification code for a less dangerous job, or you could find yourself without coverage when you need it.

And finally, make sure that you promptly let your insurance company know if you hire a new employee, or an employee leaves your restaurant.

Pay Upfront

If you’re making payments throughout the year on your insurance instead of paying the full balance upfront, you’re probably paying more than you have to.

Increase Your Deductible

If you increase the amount of your deductible – the amount you need to pay if a claim is made before the insurance company kicks in - you can lower the cost of your premiums. However, you must ensure that you have money set aside to pay that higher deductible if you have to make a claim.

Carry the Right Coverage

You don’t want to have coverage you don’t need, but then again, you don’t want to have gaps in your coverage that end up costing you more when you try to make a claim. The experienced agents at American Insurance Group specialize in Restaurant Insurance, and can help you determine the best coverage for your restaurant at the best price.

Bundle 

Typically, when you buy anything in quantity, you pay less, and the same is true with insurance. You probably need several types of insurance – WC, liability, maybe commercial auto, etc. If you purchase several or all of your policies with one insurance company, you will often pay less.

Review Your Policies Annually

You have a lot on your plate, and insurance is probably not something you want to spend a lot of time on; however, Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, said, “change is the only constant in life.”

And that is certainly true in the restaurant industry – you may have purchased a new vehicle, decreased your staff, started serving alcohol or delivering food, or any number of things that could affect your insurance coverage and costs. Therefore, it’s essential to make time to review your policies every year to make sure you have the right coverage at the best rate.

Work With an Independent Agent!

The independent agents at the American Insuring Group will check with many insurance carriers to ensure that you get the best price on quality insurance protection. Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, commercial vehicle insuarance, Restaurant Insurance Costs

3 Food Safety Tips to Reduce Risk and Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Sep 19, 2020

The best restaurant insurance in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Reading, Erie, Harrisburg, PA and far beyond.Want to lower your Restaurant Insurance costs? Minimize risk. It’s that simple. It may not always be easy, but it’s always that simple.

One way to minimize risk is to take every precaution to ensure the safety of the food you’re serving. One mistake can result in a customer becoming ill, the destruction of your reputation, a health department inspection, a lawsuit, or even shutting your restaurant down, and of course, higher insurance premiums.

According to the CDC, every year, approximately 48 million people get sick, and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases. The majority of foodborne illnesses are caused by foodborne pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites, and most of those can be eliminated in a restaurant kitchen with strictly enforced food safety protocols.

According to the Health Care Agency, the top five causes of foodborne illnesses are as follows:

  • Dirty and/or contaminated utensils and equipment
  • Poor employee health and hygiene
  • Improper hot/cold holding temperatures of potentially hazardous food
  • Improper cooking temperatures of food
  • Food from unsafe sources

Here are three tips to minimize most of those risks.

Clean and Sanitize

Perhaps more than any other industry, cleanliness is crucial in the food industry where cross-contamination is always a concern. First, you need to make sure every surface in your kitchen is clean – from cutting boards to stovetops (which also helps avoid fires). Make sure every tool in your kitchen is regularly cleaned and sanitized – from dishes to cooking utensils. And don’t forget those hidden spaces like ovens and refrigerators.

Regularly wipe down surfaces, and make sure that whatever you are using – a sponge, rag, etc. – is actually cleaning the surface and not just moving the dirt around, creating a breeding ground for germs and bacteria. Regularly replace disposable items and wash rags daily.

Every food contact surface, utensil, food prep equipment should be washed, rinsed, and sanitized at least once every four hours. Ovens, stoves, grills, and hoods should be thoroughly cleaned every night.

And don’t forget about the role your employees play in keeping your restaurant clean. Train them about the importance of cleanliness and how to maintain a clean restaurant and remind them frequently with posters, signs, and on-going training. Advise them not to come to work when they are sick, and make sure they wash their hands regularly.

The CDC recommends employees wash their hands during these critical times:

  • Before, during, and after preparing any food.
  • After handling raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs.
  • Before eating.
  • After touching garbage.
  • After wiping counters or cleaning other surfaces with chemicals.
  • After touching pets, pet food, or pet treats.
  • After coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.

To properly wash your hands, the CDC recommends following these five steps to prevent the spread of germs:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Pay Attention to Temperatures

When cooking, remember that some meats, like beef or lamb, can be served rare or, in some cases, raw; whereas, pork and chicken must be cooked thoroughly. Use a food thermometer to ensure that food (especially meats) are cooked to safe minimum internal temperatures.

Also, remember to keep food out of the “danger zone” (40°F - 140°F) where bacteria can grow most rapidly. Keep hot food at 140°F or higher and cold food at 40°F or lower. Don’t leave food out of the refrigerator for more than two hours or one hour if the temperature is above 90°F.

Bacteria can be reintroduced to food after it is safely cooked, so put leftovers in shallow containers for quick cooling and then refrigerate them at 40°F or lower within two hours.

Avoid Cross-Contamination

Cross-contamination is the transfer of harmful bacteria or other microorganisms from one person, object, or place to another. Preventing cross-contamination is key to preventing foodborne illness. Keeping everything clean is your first step, but there are other things you can do.

The three main types of cross-contamination are food-to-food, equipment-to-food, and people-to-food. To avoid food-to-food cross-contamination, thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables and keep raw and cooked food stored separately.

Avoid equipment-to-food contamination by making sure all equipment and surfaces are thoroughly washed and use different cutting boards, utensils, and containers for different types of food, such as raw meat and poultry products to avoid cross-contamination. Replace cutting boards when they develop hard-to-clean cuts.

People can also transfer bacteria through their bodies or clothes while preparing or serving food. Remind employees to wash their hands frequently and to keep their hair pulled back or restrained in a hair net.

Protect Your Restaurant with The Right Insurance

Sometimes despite your best efforts, a customer will become ill. The experienced agents at American Insuring Group can make sure you have the right insurance coverage to protect your restaurant against potential lawsuits and, as independent agents, compare pricing among many competing carriers to ensure you get the lowest price for that great coverage.

Give us a call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Commercial Insurance Berks County, Restaurant Liability Insurance, Restaurant Insurance Costs

Restaurant Safety and Outdoor Dining Tips

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Jul 11, 2020

Outdoor dining tips to help restaurants saver on insurance in Philadelphia, Berks County, Pittsburgh, Erie, Harrisburg, PA and far beyond.The rules and restrictions put in place by Gov. Tom Wolf, during the COVID-19 pandemic, forced many restaurants to get a little creative. At first, only take-out and curbside pickup were allowed, and then in early June, restaurants were given the okay for outdoor seating.

Many restaurants that hadn't offered outside seating before the pandemic, quickly adapted. And even as we moved into the green phase and some of the restrictions on indoor dining were lifted, many diners continued to feel safer eating outside.

Even without the fear of COVID-19, many people enjoy outdoor dining. Still, restaurants need to remember that outdoor dining presents a few challenges, including risks that could affect the cost of Restaurant Insurance.

Here are tips to ensure the safety of your customers and staff:

Food Safety

Food safety should always be a priority for restaurants, but as the temperatures rise, it becomes even more crucial. According to the US Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS), there is a "Danger Zone" – temperatures 40 to 140 degrees F - where bacteria can grow more rapidly. 

If you are in the "danger zone" (which will often occur with outdoor dining in the summer), don't leave food out of the refrigerator for more than two hours, and if temperatures are above 90 degrees, that time goes down to one hour. Cold foods should be kept at 40 degrees F, or colder and hot foods should be kept at an internal temp of 40 degrees F or higher.

Weather

Bad weather can be just a nuisance or an actual danger to outdoor diners and restaurant staff.

Restaurant managers can keep an eye on the weather and be more prepared for bad weather by uploading a weather app to their phone.

A roof, partial enclosure, or even table umbrellas can help keep diners dry and protected from the hot sun.  Other ways to keep diners cool are fans or mist sprayers. Also, make sure your staff provides cold water to customers on particularly hot days.

As the weather begins to cool, you can extend your outdoor dining time with patio heaters to keep diners warm on chilly fall evenings.

Bugs

Bugs are just a part of summer living, but that doesn't make them any more tolerable when your customers are trying to enjoy their meals al fresco! Consider adding mosquito-repelling plants (such as lemongrass or scented geraniums) or a commercial bug zapper or bug light. Do NOT spray insect repellent around food or customers.

Smoking

According to the PA Department of Health, smoking is not banned for "structures such as a deck or patio that is not enclosed by walls and a ceiling." You should still have a policy in place, especially if you decide to extend the ban to outdoor spaces at your restaurant.

Pets

Americans are obsessed with their pets, and many would love to bring their dogs along with them when they eat outside. While many states (17, according to Michigan State University's Animal Legal and Historical Center) are beginning to allow pets into outdoor areas of restaurants, Pennsylvania is currently not one of them – unless it is a service animal protected under the American with Disabilities Act. The reasons for this restriction given by many experts are health (diseases and parasites), safety (biting), and aesthetics (barking).

Lower Your Restaurant Insurance Costs

Keeping diners and staff safe helps keep the costs of Restaurant Insurance in check. Another way to keep those costs down is to work with an independent agent (like those at American Insuring Group) who can compare the cost of your insurance with several carriers to ensure you get the best price. Give us a call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Restaurant Insurance Reading PA, Restaurant Liability Insurance, Restaurant Safety, Restaurant Insurance Costs

Slip-Resistant Shoes Help Lower Restaurant Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Jul 04, 2020

slip-resistant shoes can lower restaurant insurance costsIf you want to lower Restaurant Insurance costs, a comprehensive safety plan is essential. A well-designed and enforced safety program helps minimize the number of injuries. This results in fewer insurance claims, which lowers your insurance costs and provides numerous other benefits, such as improved employee morale and productivity.

But where should you begin with a safety program?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, slips, trips, and falls are the third most common type of work-related injury in the US and the second most common fatal work-related injury. While falling from a higher level resulted in more work-related fatalities, injuries caused by falls on the same level occur more often in restaurants and can cause injury. In fact, the BLS reports that half of all falls from the same level ended in more than ten days away from work.

The most common injuries in same-level falls include sprains, strains, dislocations, and tears to the lower extremities, which are the most expensive category of injuries, costing almost $13 million in Workers’ Compensation costs every year.

So, there’s your answer as to where to begin! Start your safety program by minimizing the risk of falls. Here’s information about one simple step – providing slip-resistant shoes - that can help significantly decrease slip, trip, and fall injuries in your restaurant.

The Study

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Laboratory studies of slip-resistant footwear to reduce slips, trips, and falls have shown promise in reducing slips, but limited field research made it difficult to demonstrate if slip-resistant footwear actually reduced injuries.”

So, researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) evaluated 17,000 food-service workers in 226 school districts across the US to determine the effectiveness of a program that provided highly-rated slip-resistant shoes at no cost to the workers. The researchers wanted to see if this type of program would reduce WC injury claims related to slipping on greasy or wet floors.

Workers in some of the school districts in the study wore 5-star rated slip-resistant shoes that were given to them at no cost, and workers in other districts wore their own slip-resistant shoes. The shoes provided were designed specifically to prevent slips on greasy or wet floors.

The Results

The districts where workers were provided slip-resistant shoes experienced a 67% reduction in claims for slip injuries. The baseline measure was 3.54 slipping injuries per 10,000 months worked, which was reduced to 1.18 slipping injuries per 10,000 months worked during the time when workers wore slip-resistant shoes that were provided at no cost.

The other districts where workers were not given slip-resistant shoes did not experience any decline in slip injuries.

The study also found that – prior to the study - workers over the age of 55 had a higher probability of a slip-related WC claim (4.2 injuries per 10,000 worker months) than workers under the age of 55 (2.3 injuries per 10,000 worker months). Therefore, as the number of workers over the age of 55 remain active in the US workforce, preventing slipping injuries becomes even more vital if businesses want to keep Workers’ Compensation costs down.

The CDC concluded, “The findings from this study provide evidence of the effectiveness of slip-resistant footwear and may assist employers, managers, and workers in their decision on whether to invest time and resources in a slip-resistant footwear program.”

Additional Tips to Lower Your Restaurant Insurance Costs

American Insuring Group specializes in Restaurant Insurance and is focused on providing the best insurance coverage at the best price. Discover more safety tips on our blog and give us a call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online to discover how we can help you save even more on your Restaurant Insurance costs!

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, workers comp costs, Safety Programs, Restaurant Safety, Restaurant Insurance Costs