Restaurants, kitchens and catering areas are busy places, with plenty of hot surfaces and sharp objects, including knives, glassware and kitchen equipment. Common work injuries in the restaurant industry include slips and trips, burns and cuts (lacerations). Eye injuries are also common from grease and cleaning products. As with any manual job, workplace hazards for waitresses include lifting and straining, as well as the risks associated with long hours of standing. As an employer, restaurant owners have a duty to protect their staff from the risk of such injuries, and must have appropriate safety measures in place.
Injuries may also occur to members of the public eating in or visiting restaurants, whether as a customer, delivery person or supplier. Slips and falls, burns and food poisoning are all potential restaurant liability claims, and restaurant owners and managers have a duty of care to all visitors to their premises, ensuring that their visit is safe and free from accident. This duty extends to any car park or outside area attached to the restaurant.
If you have suffered a serving staff injury, a chef injury or any other restaurant injury, or if you are considering making a claim for a catering accident, we can help, and you can find further information below. Our personal injury solicitors are experienced in dealing with restaurant liability claims and catering injury claims and can help you obtain the right compensation. Call us now, free, on 0800 073 8801 or contact us through our website, for advice on your restaurant injury and your potential no win no fee claim for a catering accident.
Select A Section
- A Guide To Claiming Compensation As A Chef Or Member Of The Waiting Staff
- What Roles Are Included In Waiting Staff And Chefs?
- Burn Injuries To Waiters, Waitresses, And Chefs
- Slips, Trips, And Falls To Kitchen Staff
- Cuts And Lacerations To Kitchen Staff
- Common Accidents And Injuries To People Working In Commercial Kitchens
- Kitchen Accidents And Injuries To Members Of The Public
- Health And Safety In Commercial Kitchens
- Statistics For Accidents And Injuries In Commercial Kitchens
- What Should You Do If Injured In A Kitchen?
- How To Begin Your Personal Injury Claim
- What Can You Claim For If Injured In A Kitchen Or Any Other Part Of A Restaurant?
- Calculating Compensation Settlements For Restaurant Staff Injuries
- No Win No Fee Serving Staff Claims For Injuries To A Waiter, A Waitress, Or A Chef
- Why Make Your Claim With Accident Claims UK
- Contact Accident Claims UK Today
- Useful Links
Injuries in the catering industry are common. Hot ovens, sharp knives and the bustle of a busy restaurant or kitchen are a hazardous combination for waiters, waitresses and chefs. As in other workplaces, back injuries, slips, trips and falls are also common. Perhaps more surprisingly, eye injuries are also common work injuries in the restaurant industry due to splash hazards from grease and cleaning products. With the sheer volume of workplace hazards for waitresses, waiters and other serving staff, it is no surprise that this is a common source of personal injury claims.
This article will explain the different sorts of accidents that might lead to a waiter injury, serving staff injury or chef injury, and explain how to go ahead with making a claim for a catering accident, and what is involved in making a no win no fee personal injury claim.
Wait staff includes waiters, waitresses, servers and hosting staff. Kitchen staff includes chefs, prep workers and other support workers. Cleaners, maintenance workers, managers and other staff may be involved in any area of a restaurant or catering facility.
Kitchen staff are frequently exposed to more obvious hazards, such as sharp objects, ovens and electrical equipment, but they are also more likely to be trained in these areas, unlike serving staff who may use kitchen equipment without adequate training and subsequently suffer a ‘chef injury’. Trips, slips and back injuries are perhaps more commonly seen as a ‘waiter injury’, but equally kitchen staff are at risk, with spills being common in all catering areas.
Burn injuries are one of the most common types of restaurant injury. It is perhaps more commonly seen as ‘chef injury’, as chefs are constantly dealing with ovens, grills and hot fat and oil, but it may also be a ‘waitress injury’ as serving staff are exposed to burns from hot plates and spills from hot food and drink.
Although many burns and scalds are minor, they can be serious injuries, leading to loss of function, permanent scarring or other cosmetic issues.
Restaurant owners and employers have a duty to ensure that staff are properly trained in the handling of hot food and equipment, that spills or breakages are dealt with promptly and that appropriate protective equipment is provided. If such training and equipment is not provided, you may have a personal injury claim for a serving staff injury or chef injury suffered as a result.
Slips, trips and falls are common catering injury claims, whether as a chef injury or as a waiter/waitress injury. Again, the responsibility is on your employer and/or the restaurant owner to ensure that walkways are safe and free from hazards, whether in the kitchen, the restaurant or elsewhere on the premises. If the employer or restaurant owner fails to do so, you may have a personal injury claim.
Workplace hazards for waitresses, which may cause slips and falls, include wet or dirty floors (for example from water or food spillage), boxes or equipment blocking walkways or people carrying large loads without being able to see where they are going.
Cuts are particularly common work injuries in the restaurant industry. They are perhaps more commonly seen in the kitchen, due to the use of knives and other sharp equipment, but serving staff may also be required to assist in some food preparation and may be required to use knives or other equipment. Serving staff are also at risk from cuts and lacerations from broken glass or crockery in the restaurant, as are the kitchen staff involved in cleaning glassware and tableware.
Cuts from knives or other kitchen equipment (such as slicers or food processors) can be very deep, and therefore serious. It is important to get urgent medical attention for a deep cut, as there may be significant blood loss and potentially damage to nerves, tendons and muscles, with possibly serious consequences. Cuts from broken glass or crockery are less likely to be as deep, but may involve multiple cuts and the risk of glass (or other contaminants) in the wound. Any sort of cut in a kitchen or restaurant environment involves the risk of infection from food or cleaning products entering the wound.
Other common kitchen injuries include scalds, from hot water and other liquids, and manual handling/musculoskeletal injuries from lifting and straining. Other injuries are eye injuries, from splashing, and contact dermatitis, particularly on the hands due to exposure to cleaning products. As with many other manual jobs, repetitive strain injury is also a risk.
If any of these kinds of injury are caused by the fault or negligence of the employer or restaurant owner, you may be able to make a personal injury claim.
It is not only serving staff who may be injured in kitchen accidents. Members of the public are regularly present in kitchens and restaurants as customers, suppliers, external contractors or delivery people or for other reasons. The restaurant owner also has a duty of care towards members of the public, making sure that the environment is safe for visitors, who could not be expected to have received the same training as a professional chef. If the restaurant owner (and, by extension, the kitchen staff) have failed in this duty of care, you may have a restaurant liability claim in relation to any personal injury you have suffered.
In the UK, the safety of commercial kitchens falls under the guidance of both the Health and Safety Executive and the Food Standards Agency, as well as the general principles of health and safety law covering workplaces and general safety.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, together with its associated regulations, aims to ensure that employers provide their workers with a safe working environment, proper protective equipment and proper training. Any breach of this act or the regulations leading to a serving staff injury or chef injury could provide the grounds for a personal injury claim.
There were around 1.3 million incidents or work-related illness, and 609,000 workplace injuries in the UK in 2016/17. The catering and hotel industry is one of the safer areas to work in with regard to work-related illness (2,060 per 100,000 workers), but has an above-average frequency of workplace injuries, with 2,460 per 100,000 workers in 2016/17 suffering workplace injuries. As already see, there are many types of injury which may occur in a catering environment, and while many are minor, some will be much more serious.
If you suffer a serving staff injury or a chef injury, you should ensure that, once you have received appropriate medical attention, any internal procedures are properly followed. This will include making your employer aware, and they should ensure a report is made in the accident book. In certain circumstances, the Health and Safety Executive will need to be informed, in accordance with RIDDOR procedures, and the HSE may make an investigation.
You may wish to keep your own records to assist you with any restaurant liability claim. For example, photos of the accident site and the injury itself could be very helpful evidence in your personal injury claim. If any colleagues saw the accident, if they can write down what they saw that may also be helpful evidence. Writing down the circumstances of your accident, such as whether there was a spillage or obstruction, will help in any future personal injury claim.
If your restaurant injury involves any expenditure on your part (for example, prescription charges or over-the-counter painkiller costs) please keep a record of this, ideally with receipts. If you have to take any time off work, particularly if you are on a zero-hours contract or are a ‘casual’ employee, you should keep a note of how long you were off, and what shifts you would have worked in that time.
Once you are ready, we can advise further on whether you are able to make a personal injury claim. Please contact our personal injury lawyers for a telephone consultation. This is conducted free of charge and there is no obligation to take your catering injury claim further.
This initial conversation will cover the details of your accident, including the circumstances of your accident (what happened, what do you think was the cause), the details of your injury and any ongoing symptoms, what treatment you have had and are still having, what evidence is available – are there any photos, was the accident recorded in the accident book.
Following this discussion, we will be able to advise you if you have grounds for making a personal injury claim, and we will be able to confirm whether we can act for you on a no win, no fee basis.
As with any personal injury claim, the value of the claim will depend on the severity of your injury. Restaurant liability claims will include compensation for the injury itself, known as general damages, and out-of-pocket expenses, known as special damages, which may also include a sum for future losses.
General damages are calculated based on case law, and compensate you for your pain and suffering, emotional distress and how your injury affects your everyday life and mobility.
Special damages include loss of earnings, cost of medical treatment (any private treatment, including physiotherapy, prescription costs etc.), cost of care around the home (even if provided by family members), medical aids (such as walking sticks or knee braces) and other specific expenses such as damage to your property as a result of the accident (e.g. damage to clothing), travel expenses for hospital appointments and anything else related to your injury. Your future losses may include future loss of earnings, care, treatment costs and even loss of pension as a result of having to give up work or change job. If you keep all receipts from an early stage, that will make it much easier to include those items in your restaurant injury claim using our personal injury claims calculator.
Restaurant injuries can vary considerably, and the value of your claim will depend on the circumstances. The table below sets out examples of general damages awarded for various injuries that might occur following a serving staff injury or chef injury (as set out in case law, and summarised in the Judicial College Guidelines). Special damages (out-of-pocket expenses) will be in addition and will be particular to your own unique situation.
|Eye injury||Moderate||£22,230 to £36,960||Incomplete loss of vision in one eye or permanent impairment in one or both eyes, including sensitivity to bright light|
|Eye injury||Minor||£3,710 to £8,200||Minor injuries causing pain and temporary interference with vision|
|Back Injury||Severe||£36,390 to £151,070||Serious back injury, possibly causing paralysis or nerve damage, damage leading to long-term severe pain or impaired mobility, possibly other internal injuries including loss of continence or sexual disfunction|
|Back Injury||Moderate||£11,730 to £36,390||Less severe disability, including fractures, slipped discs and serious soft tissue damage, risk of ongoing arthritis and other problems|
|Back Injury||Minor||Up to £11,730||Soft tissue damage or muscle pain where a full recovery is achieved without surgery|
|Shoulder Injury||Serious to Severe||£11,980 to £45,070||Serious injury with lasting loss of feeling or paralysis, complex fractures leading to restriction of movement, ongoing pain|
|Shoulder Injury||Moderate||£7,410 to £11,980||Soft tissue damage or straightforward fracture, perhaps with ongoing restriction of movement and ongoing symptoms from which a full recovery is expected|
|Shoulder Injury||Minor||Up to £7,410||Soft tissue damage leading to a full recovery, simple fracture of clavicle|
|Arm Injury||Moderate to Serious||£36,770 to £122,860||Serious fracture injuries with ongoing disability, and more severe injuries that do not lead to amputation but have a serious impact on the person’s life|
|Arm Injury||Minor/ Less Severe||£6,190 to £36,770||Simple fractures and injuries resulting in minor disability|
|Elbow Injury||Severe||£36,770 to £51,460||Seriously disabling injury, with surgery and ongoing disability|
|Elbow Injury||Less severe||£14,690 to £30,050||Less severe injury with some impairment of function but no major surgery|
|Elbow Injury||Minor||Up to £11,820||Injuries including simple fractures which do not cause any ongoing disability or loss of function, including soft tissue damage|
|Hand Injury||Minor to Moderate||Up to £4,461 to £27,220||Fractures, soft tissue damage, and cuts where a good recovery has been made, more serious injuries such as a severe crush injury, leading to permanent disability, will be at the higher end of this bracket|
|Wrist Injury||Mild to Severe||£3,310 to £56,180||Minor fractures and soft tissue damage up to serious loss of function: higher awards will be for permanent disability and ongoing pain|
|Finger and Thumb Injury||Minor to Severe||Up to £85,170||Soft tissue damage, fracture or amputation, the amount will vary depending on which finger(s) are affected, ongoing function and appearance|
|Work-related upper limb disorders||Serious||£13,970 to £21,700||Including a range of conditions, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tenosynovitis, higher awards are for continuing disability and loss of employment|
|Work-related upper limb disorders||Minor to Moderate||£2,070 to £10,090||More minor cases of repetitive strain injuries, resolving in the course of up to three years|
|Leg Injury||Severe||£91,950 to £264,650||Amputation of all or part of one or both legs, taking into account any surrounding damage, ongoing use of prosthetics and psychological impact|
|Leg Injury||Moderate to Serious||£26,050 to £127,530||Complex fractures and crush injuries requiring extensive treatment, risk of arthritis and likelihood of permanent pain and disability, short of amputation|
|Leg Injury||Minor||Up to £26,050||Simple fractures and soft tissue damage, where a good recovery is likely, possibly some ongoing symptoms|
|Knee Injury||Serious||£48,920 to £90,290||Serious injury to the joint and fractures into the knee, with future risk of surgery and arthritis, loss of function and ongoing pain|
|Knee Injury||Moderate to Serious||£24,580 to £40,770||Damage with ongoing symptoms and pain, with the potential for future surgery|
|Knee Injury||Minor to Moderate||Up to £24,580||Twisting and bruising injuries, dislocation or damage to cartilage where a full recovery is made or only minor weakness remains|
|Ankle Injury||Minor to Severe||Up to £65,420||Amount of compensation will depend on whether seriousness of the fracture or soft tissue damage, whether surgery is required and the level of ongoing disability|
|Foot Injury||Severe||£78,800 to £189,110||Extremely severe injuries and those leading to the amputation of one or both feet|
|Foot Injury||Moderate to Severe||£12,900 to £65,710||More serious injury including displaced metatarsal fractures and increased risk of arthritis, injuries involving lengthy treatment and surgery, and ongoing disability and pain|
|Foot Injury||Minor||Up to £12,900||Straightforward injury including simple fractures and ligament damage, leading to a virtually full recovery|
|Toe Injury||Minor to Severe||Up to £52,620||Injuries may include simple fractures or soft tissue damage up to those including ongoing pain and amputation of one or more toes|
|Dermatitis||Serious||£12,900 to £18,020||Cracking and soreness of both hands, affecting employment and lasting for years|
|Dermatitis||Minor to Moderate||£1,600 – £10,710||Short-term or medium-term condition, possibly with some ongoing symptoms but largely resolved with treatment|
|Burns||All||Burns are not dealt with separately, save for where there is scarring over significant parts of the body (which would attract a high value claim), but where there is a burn with permanent scarring, the claim will be at the higher end of the bracket|
The figures in the table only relate to general damages, and therefore the full compensation amount will be higher once special damages are included in our personal injury claims calculator.
Please speak to us for further advice. Most calls only take around 10 minutes, and our personal injury solicitor can give you an outline of what might be included in your claim for compensation.
Making a court claim can be expensive and confusing, but to help you through it we may be able to offer you no win-no fee agreement, also known as a conditional fee agreement, or CFA. This means that if your kitchen injury claim does not succeed, you do not have to pay legal costs. The agreement can be supported by an insurance policy to cover specific costs such as court fees and medical experts. If you win your claim, the majority of your costs will be paid for by your employer or other person responsible for your accident.
Accident Claims UK has extensive experience in dealing with all kinds of chef injury claims and accident claims for a waiter or waitress, and will help make what can be a stressful experience as stress-free as we can. Our team will progress your case, keep you informed and resolve your personal injury claim in the shortest time possible.
If you are considering making a claim for a catering accident, we can help. Personal injury claims must be made within three years of the accident (the personal injury claims time limit), so call us now to get your claim started. Calls us free on 0800 073 8801 or contact us through our website for your comprehensive claims advice.
Find out more about accidents in the workplace
Information on prevention of accidents in the catering industry
Statistics on work-related injuries and ill-health