Safety Self Audits and the Restaurant Industry

As anyone involved in the restaurant industry already knows, restaurants are some of the most heavily regulated businesses in the country. From licensing requirements to health inspections, there is a constant litany of authorities checking up on food service operations. Of course, most restaurant owners find this an onerous burden and an interference with day-to-day business. What if you were to find out, however, that there is an inspection process that can help your business save money and, perhaps, reputation all at the same time? It is the safety self audit process, and putting it in place in your food service business could be a huge time and cost savings for you.

The Basic Premise

The basic idea behind a safety self audit is simple: If you learn what to look for and make it part of your daily or weekly business operations, you can use it to your advantage in dealing with local and state inspectors, insurance adjusters and, in the case of accidents, in potential accident or insurance claims. A simple safety self audit is not really much different than what most restaurants are required to do on a regular basis anyway, the scope just expands to a few different areas.

The Basic Audit

When thinking about putting together a self audit for a food service business, consider dividing the audit into three basic areas — customer, employee and process/equipment. When considering the safety of your guests, some potential areas to include on the audit are:

  • Sidewalks and exterior paths around the business
  • Floor surfaces (especially broken or uneven areas)
  • Worn or broken furniture
  • Safely operating and ADA compliant restroom fixtures
  • Safe hot water output temperatures

As regards your employees, areas to consider include:

  • Review of mandatory food service training
  • Inspection of equipment
  • Observation and inspection of safe preparation and cooking techniques (for example, do you mandate the use of a filet glove and is this being followed appropriately?)
  • Review of appropriate dress including non-slip shoes

When looking at equipment inspection, some things to consider include:

  • Water heater temperature
  • Safe and efficient operating conditions of ovens and stoves
  • Proper storage and disposal of hazardous materials (think lye if you make pretzels or propane if you use torches)

Why Audit?

There are several good reasons to perform a safety self audit. First and foremost, you can save your business the potential for general liability claims and workers’ compensation claims if you operate safely. It is estimated that the average general liability claim for a business costs about $30,000 and the average workers’ compensation claim costs even more. Secondly, many insurance companies offer discounts to businesses that complete self audits. This is because businesses who think about safety and make it part of the daily routine actually operate more safely. Third, many regulatory agencies either have policies that may waive penalties if you have self-reported violations in an audit and you are actively working to fix them. Finally, if something does go awry and you find yourself in litigation, self-audits can often be used in court to show that your business was doing everything to operate safely, which can often be used as a potential mitigating factor.

Creating the appropriate safety audit takes a little time, but one can be created that is tailored to your specific business needs. The investment of some time and effort can often pay huge dividends later. The experts at De Cardenas Law Group have been helping businesses make great decisions for decades. They can help direct your business down the right path to mitigate risk and increase profitability. If you are in the San Francisco or Los Angeles area and you want to explore the possibilities that a closer look at your business might open, give us a call today at 415-590-4869 (San Francisco) or 626-577-6800 (Los Angeles) or click here to set up your initial consultation. You owe it to your business to maximize every opportunity to succeed.