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5 Tips to Minimize the Risk of an Allergic Reaction in Your Restaurant

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Feb 26, 2022

Reduce-Allergy-Risk-Restaurant-Insurance

Imagine a customer has an allergic reaction to a meal prepared by your chef. Perhaps they have trouble breathing, faint, or begin to vomit. The episode turns your whole restaurant into a scene of chaos as customers look on and the staff tries to help the customer. 

This is a situation no restaurant owner or manager wants to face. Foremost, of course, is your concern for your customer’s well-being. Still, an episode like this can also hurt your business – disruption in service, a hit to your restaurant’s reputation, and a possible lawsuit. And more lawsuits can mean higher Restaurant Insurance costs.

 Approximately 15 million people in the U.S. are affected by food allergies, resulting in about 30,000 emergency room visits and 150-200 deaths every year. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Nearly half of fatal food allergy reactions over a 13-year period were caused by food from a restaurant or other food service establishment.” 

According to the FDA’s 2017 Food Code, a person in charge must “demonstrate knowledge of the major food allergens regulated by the FDA, as well as the symptoms of a food allergy reaction. The Food Code also specifies that retail and foodservice managers be made aware of the seriousness of food allergies, including the potential for reactions, anaphylaxis, and death; to know the 8 (soon to be 9) major food allergens, to understand food allergen ingredients and labeling; and how to avoid cross-contact during food preparation and service. 

“In addition to a manager being aware of food allergy safety, the Food Code requires that the person in charge ensure employees are properly trained in food safety, including food allergy awareness as it pertains to their jobs.” 

5 Tips to Minimize the Risk of an Allergic Reaction in Your Restaurant

Training

Proper training is the first step to minimizing the risk of experiencing the scene described above. Yet, the CDC reports “fewer than half of members of the restaurant staffs surveyed in 278 restaurants had received training on food allergies.” In fact, one survey discovered that “some managers and staff incorrectly believed someone with a food allergy could safely eat a small amount of that allergen.” 

Both back and front-of-house staff should be trained on the following:

  • The ingredients used to prepare each menu item
  • The most common food allergens
  • The most common symptoms
  • How to prevent cross-contamination
  • What to do if a customer does have an allergic reaction 

Keep Them Separated

When possible, restaurants should use separate equipment and prep areas for cooking meals for customers with food allergies. If that isn’t possible, the area should be thoroughly wiped down and equipment washed before preparing food for someone with allergies. 

Here are tips from Total Food Service:

  1. Change aprons, wash hands, and sanitize prep surfaces.
  2. Use a piece of foil on the grill to act as a barrier between the food and grill.
  3. Use separate fryers and utensils, plates, glassware, etc., that are washed, sanitized, and stored separately.

Provide Ingredient Lists

Make a list of ingredients or recipes for all menu items available to customers.

Have a Plan

Have a plan in place to serve customers with food allergies. Culinary Agents, Inc. advises that the plan should include the following:

  • How to address the reservation during the lineup
  • How to communicate the allergy across departments
  • How to answer any questions a guest regarding the menu
  • Who is responsible for checking the ingredients
  • How to avoid cross-contamination,
  • How to notify the kitchen of the allergy
  • How to mark the ticket in the kitchen 

Protect Your Restaurant With the Right Insurance!

Unfortunately, sometimes – despite your best efforts – a customer has an allergic reaction to something prepared in your restaurant. That’s where the right insurance can help. Not only do the agents at American Insuring Group specialize in restaurant insurance to ensure you have the right coverage, as independent agents, they check with multiple insurance companies to ensure you pay the lowest price for that coverage.

Call American Insuring Group to start saving today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online.

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

5 Tips to Create a Safe Outdoor Dining Space Your Customers Will Love

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Oct 30, 2021

Create a Safe Outdoor Dining Space and Save on Restaurant Insurance in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Lancaster, Erie, Allentown, PA and beyond.For many restaurants, creating an outdoor seating area became a necessity during the COVID restrictions. According to the National Restaurant Association, 48% of family dining, 56% of casual dining, and 62% of fine dining restaurants said: “they devoted more resources to developing or expanding outdoor dining areas.”

Because dining alfresco can be a fun and desirable experience for many customers, creating a permanent outdoor area your customers enjoy and want to return to can help increase your profits. But don’t forget about customer safety to avoid the risk of injuries, lawsuits, and higher Restaurant Insurance costs.

It takes some effort and unique considerations to create a safe and enjoyable outdoor seating area for your customers. A few picnic tables thrown under a tent on your parking lot may not be enough for long-term success. Here are some tips for creating a beautiful, comfortable, and safe seating area that will serve your restaurant and your customers for years to come.

Find the Right Space

Take time to look at your restaurant’s exterior to determine the best spot for a permanent outdoor seating area. You may need to think outside of the box. For example, if you don’t have a large property, is a roof deck feasible? Is there anything on your property that could make for a nice view - such as a stream, forest, an area overlooking the city – that you can take advantage of?

Also, consider the level of noise. While setting up an outdoor seating area that overlooks the town square is great for people watching, the sound of loud cars and motorcycles can make conversations challenging. Take time to sit in the area you’re considering to determine if it’s the best spot for your outdoor seating area.

And don’t forget safety. Is the new space ADA compliant? Are there any tripping hazards you need to eliminate? Does the new space cause traffic flow problems that need to be addressed?

Keep Up-to-Date With Outdoor Dining Rules

Outdoor dining laws vary by state and local governments. Contact regulators to determine what is and isn’t allowed and what permits or licenses you may need. Check into noise ordinances in your area. While many outdoor dining regulations were relaxed during COVID, that may not apply to the future, so check the laws and regulations in your area before starting any permanent renovations.

Keep Your Customers Comfortable

How can you keep your customers dry when it rains, warm when it’s cool, and cool when the sun is beating down on them? Consider a permanent roof, retractable roof, or umbrellas to protect your customers from the elements. If you want to extend your outdoor dining into the cooler months, you may want to consider investing in outdoor heaters.

Make sure the furniture you choose is comfortable. For example, chairs with supportive backs and armrests can be more inviting and more comfortable. In addition, you may want to consider using cushions that can be removed and cleaned as needed.

Control Pests

Are there any bugs or animals that could ruin your customers’ al fresco dining experience? If yes, what can you do to alleviate the nuisance? It can be hard to control nature, but keeping the area clean can help. Immediately clean up spills and remove uneaten food quickly. Sweep the floor frequently to eliminate crumbs, which can attract animals. Consider the use of bug zappers or an exterminator if bugs are a problem.

Create an Attractive Space

One of the greatest appeals of alfresco dining is the ambiance! Even if you don’t have a babbling brook or a beautiful ocean at your disposal, you can create an attractive outdoor dining experience that will compel your customers back again and again. A garden or potted plants can provide beauty and even privacy where needed.

Just because you’re outside doesn’t mean you need to use vinyl tablecloths, paper plates and napkins, and plastic utensils. While that may be appropriate for a restaurant selling barbeque, it isn’t for a more upscale restaurant. Plus, glasses, real silverware, and cloth napkins won’t blow away as quickly.

And don’t forget about lighting. The right lighting can draw people in, create an inviting atmosphere, and of course, allow people to move about safely. So you may want to consider a string of outdoor lights, candles, tiki torches, lamp posts, fire pits, and/or spotlights for plants, statues, or fountains.

Save on Restaurant Insurance to Protect Your Business, Customers, and Employees

Keeping your customers and employees safe should be your biggest priority and just makes good business sense. However, if an accident occurs, the right restaurant insurance can help protect your business, customers, and employees.

The independent agents at American Insuring Group specialize in restaurant insurance and can help ensure you have the right insurance at the lowest cost. So if you’re considering adding a permanent outdoor seating area – or just want to save on your insurance costs - give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Restaurant Safety, Restaurant Insurance Costs

3 Most Common Restaurant Injuries and Tips to Avoid Them

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Oct 16, 2021

3 Most Common Restaurant Injuries and Tips to Avoid ThemThe more accidents you have in your kitchen and the more claims you file, the higher your Restaurant Insurance costs. And we all know how dangerous restaurant kitchens can be. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 93,800 nonfatal injuries and illnesses in full-service restaurants in 2019, and about one-third of those injuries required at least one day away from work.

These injuries are costing restaurants thousands of dollars every day – both directly and indirectly. Direct costs include wage replacement, litigation costs, property losses, etc. Indirect costs include loss of productivity, OSHA fines, damage to your business reputation, workplace disruptions, etc.

Create a safer kitchen to prevent injuries, and you not only lower the cost of your insurance premiums, but you also create a better work environment, save yourself a lot of headaches, and save on many other operating costs. Here are three of the most common restaurant injuries, according to QSR magazine, and tips to avoid them.

Lacerations and Punctures

With all the knives, slicers, and breakable dishes and glasses, it should come as no surprise that lacerations and punctures are among the most common injuries in restaurant kitchens. Here are fifteen tips to minimize the risk of lacerations and punctures.

  1. Keep knives sharp
  2. Use the right knife for the right job
  3. Store knives in a rack or knife block – not loose in a drawer
  4. Curl fingers of the hand holding the food under when chopping, mincing, etc.
  5. Wear cut-resistant gloves
  6. Use a cutting board
  7. Clean knives immediately after use
  8. Don’t try to catch a falling knife
  9. Install machine guards
  10. Maintain all equipment
  11. Train employees on the proper use of knives and equipment
  12. Don’t wear loose clothing or jewelry that can get stuck in equipment
  13. When washing glasses, don’t quickly change the water temperature
  14. Don’t stack glassware
  15. Don’t allow glasses to rub against each other

Burns

Again, with all the hot grease, boiling water, hot stoves, and ovens, it should come as no surprise that burns are one of the most common injuries in restaurant kitchens. QSR reports that “As many as one-third of occupational burns occur in restaurants, totaling about 12,000 reported cases per year, although the actual number is projected to be much higher.” Here are fifteen tips to avoid burns in your restaurant kitchen

  1. Turn pot handles away from burners
  2. Never leave handles sticking out over the edge of the stove
  3. Adjust burn flames, so they cover only the bottom of the pan
  4. Avoid overcrowding range tops
  5. Don’t leave hot oil or grease unattended for any length of time
  6. Slowly lift lids to allow steam to escape
  7. Keep hair, clothing, and flammable materials away from open flames
  8. Ask for help to move very heavy pots that are hot or contain hot ingredients
  9. Use fryer baskets
  10. Don’t fill fryer baskets more than halfway
  11. Install splash guards on fryers
  12. Remove excess ice crystals on food before placing in fryer
  13. Dispose of oil correctly
  14. Wear protective clothing, such as gloves
  15. Use hot pads, pot holders, etc.

Sprains and Strains

Improper lifting, overreaching, tripping, etc., can cause sprains and strains in restaurant kitchens. Here are fourteen tips to minimize the risk of this type of injury.

  1. Wear slip-resistant shoes
  2. Clean up spills immediately
  3. Use signs to warn of potential hazards
  4. Keep walkways clean and free from tripping hazards
  5. Avoid carrying loads that block your view
  6. Ensure there is adequate lighting
  7. Store heavier items on the middle shelves
  8. Use a ladder or step stool instead of reaching above your shoulder height
  9. Use hand trucks to move items when possible
  10. Use anti-fatigue mats
  11. Use mechanical equipment to limit repetitive tasks when possible
  12. Provide training on safe lifting techniques
  13. Take breaks from repetitive tasks
  14. Avoid awkward positions

Regular employee training and the enforcement of safety procedures are crucial to minimizing injuries. Every restaurant kitchen should also have a first aid kit handy and make sure that several workers in the kitchen know how to treat minor injuries properly.

How to Save on Restaurant Insurance Costs

Developing a safe work environment is a significant step to reduce Restaurant Insurance costs, but it isn’t the only step restaurant owners can take. The experienced agents at American Insuring Group can offer additional ways to lower your Restaurant Insurance costs. So give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online and start saving today!

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

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

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

8 Restaurant Safety Tips to Lower Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Dec 05, 2020

Lower Your Restaurant Insurance Costs and Workers’ Comp and Liability costs in Philadelphia, Allentown, Reading, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Erie and throughout Pennsylvania.The best way to lower Restaurant Insurance Costs – particularly Workers’ Comp and Commercial Liability – is to create a safer restaurant for everyone –employees, customers, vendors, etc.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there were 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported in the U.S. in 2018. The total cost of those injuries was $170.8 billion, which included wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses, etc. However, it did not include the lower employee morale and productivity workplace injuries cause.

Here are eight restaurant safety tips to help lower costs.

1. Have your kitchen exhaust hood system degreased by a professional every six months.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were 7,410 structure fires in eating and drinking establishments reported to U.S. fire departments every year between 2010 and 2014. Cooking equipment was the cause of 61% of those fires. Grease build-up can cause fires that often spread into duct-work, exhaust systems, vents, and fans.

2. Have your fire suppression system checked by a professional every six months.

A properly working fire suppression system can extinguish flames in just a few seconds; thereby, preventing extensive and costly damage.

3. Ensure employees wear proper PPE.

This includes appropriate gloves (dishwashing, cut-resistant, and freezer), oven mitts, aprons, and anti-slip shoes.

4. Invest in anti-fatigue mats.

Anti-fatigue mats provide a cushion between feet and floors and relieve the strain caused by standing for long periods and help prevent slip-related injuries. In addition to minimizing strain and injuries, anti-fatigue mats can help boost employee morale and improve productivity.

5. Provide ongoing safety training for all employees.

OSHA states, “Regular training helps employees learn how to avoid hazards, keeps lines of communication open between you and your employees about hazards you may not be aware of, and lets employees know that you are serious about promoting sound safety policies and work practices in your restaurant.”

Training should include identifying hazards; preventing burns, cuts, slips and falls, ergonomic hazards, and injuries from robberies and assaults: and dealing with emergencies and injuries.

6. Have your employees take alcohol awareness training classes.

If your restaurant serves alcohol, you should have all servers take alcohol awareness training classes. In Pennsylvania, your restaurant can be held liable for damage caused by a customer served or sold alcohol while visibly intoxicated. The right training can teach servers about responsible alcohol consumption and how to protect customers, employers, and themselves.

7. Train your employees on safe food handling.

Every year, foodborne disease causes 76 million illnesses and 5,000 deaths in the U.S., and the restaurant industry is responsible for a significant number of those illnesses and deaths.

An NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) report found the cost of a single foodborne illness outbreak ranged from

  • $3,968 to $1.9 million for a fast-food restaurant,
  • $6,330 to $2.1 million for a fast-casual restaurant,
  • $8,030 to $2.2 million for a casual-dining restaurant, and
  • $8,273 to $2.6 million for a fine-dining restaurant

Those outbreaks ranged from a 5-person outbreak with no lost revenue, lawsuits, legal fees, or fines, to a 250-person outbreak, with significant lost revenue, lawsuits, legal fees, and fines.

The NCBI’s conclusion is, “The cost of a single foodborne illness outbreak to a restaurant can be substantial and outweigh the typical costs of prevention and control measures.”

8. Give American Insuring Group a Call Today!

As independent agents and specialists in restaurant insurance, the agents at the American Insuring Group will compare prices and coverage among multiple reputable insurance companies to ensure that you get the right insurance at the best price!

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

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, workers comp costs, Business Insurance, Restaurant Liability Insurance, Restaurant Safety

Social Media Risks for Restaurants and How to Mitigate Them

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Nov 07, 2020

Reduce Social Media Risks and Lower Your Restaurant Insurance Costs in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Lancaster, Reading, PA and elsewhereSavvy restaurant owners understand the importance of Restaurant Insurance to protect them from risks, such as lawsuits and property damage. However, many forget to protect their businesses from the risks associated with social media.

Social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc. offer many benefits – building brand awareness, engaging customers, soliciting feedback, keeping customers informed, etc. – but they also come with risks.

Here are some of the risks every restaurant owner or manager should consider and some tips to mitigate those risks.

Social Media Risks

Here are a few of the more common social media risks; however, it is by no means all-encompassing. You should assess the potential risks to your restaurant and take action to avoid them.

Data Breaches

Norton defines a data breach as “a security incident in which information is accessed without authorization.” In 2019, there were 2,013 confirmed data breaches, and it cost businesses over $2 trillion, according to Varonis. Experts predict that number will increase to $6 trillion annually by 2021.

Facebook is currently the most popular social media platform, with more than two billion users. In 2019, Facebook admitted that it had not properly secured the passwords of as many as 600 million users since 2012. In 2019, Facebook had 540 million user records exposed on the Amazon cloud server, and over 267 million Facebook usernames, Facebook IDs, and phone numbers were exposed in 2019.

Cybercriminals will try to access information on your computer any way they can, including weaknesses on social media platforms.

Loss of Reputation

Information – both accurate and false – can spread like wildfire on social media platforms, and a restaurant’s reputation can be damaged or destroyed just as quickly. The damage can be intentional or accidental, and it can come from a customer, an employee, or even the restaurant itself.

A customer can post a negative review. An employee can post something inappropriate about your restaurant on their profile. You can inadvertently post something that damages your restaurant’s reputation.

Brand Hijacking

Brand hijacking (or brandjacking) occurs when a third-party acquires or assumes your online identity in an attempt to ruin your reputation or to steal customers or potential customers. While the primary objective of brand hijacking may not be financial, it will most likely result in some kind of financial loss to your restaurant.

Liability Issues

Sometimes social media mistakes – Aka “advertising injuries” - can lead to lawsuits. For example, you could be sued for posting copyrighted content without permission, posting content that defames someone or something, posting someone else’s words or likeness without their permission, or copying someone else’s advertising.

How to Mitigate Risk

You can’t eliminate risks associated with social media platforms, but you can minimize them with these tips.

Create a Social Media Policy

Create a policy that clearly defines what employees can and cannot do on every social media platform. Share guidelines, best practices, and posting procedures. Include information about creating a secure password, avoiding spam and phishing attacks, acceptable types of content, etc.

Limit Social Media Access

Don’t grant every employee in your restaurant access to your restaurant’s page. You’ll probably have more posts, but you also open yourself up to more risks. Put one person in charge of social media posts who has been trained and educated on social media best practices. Consider how much access you allow other employees and track who has access to what.

Train Your employees

Ensure anyone who has access to posting on your restaurant’s page has proper training, including what they can and can’t share, how to utilize tools to ensure security, how to recognize unsafe links, etc. 

Talk to Your Employees

You can’t always control what your employees say on their personal social media platforms, but talk to them about the risks social media can pose to your restaurant and how to avoid those risks. And ensure they understand your restaurant’s social media policy.

Secure Your Technology

Ensure that any computer used by employees to post on social media is armed with adequate security software that continually checks for malware, viruses, and other cyber risks.

Restaurant Insurance Can be Your Safety Net!

When all else fails, the right insurance will act as a safety net to protect your restaurant. The independent agents at the American Insuring Group can help you get the right insurance for your restaurant at the best price by comparing the costs of your insurance among many insurance companies. Give us a call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Restaurant Liability Insurance, Cyber Liability Insurance, Cyber Insurance, Restaurant Safety

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