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Reduce Congestion and Avoid Collision with a Restaurant Traffic Pattern

By Michael Rich

It is the middle of dinner rush, a line of hungry customers curls around the back of the restaurant and the stack of clean plates is dwindling.

In a frantic effort to keep up with the demanding patrons the dish washer flies back and forth between the cook line and the wash room, carrying stacks of plates from the lowest reaches of her finger tips up to below her nose.

One collision could send not only hundreds of plates tumbling down, but cause a potential business crippling injury. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimate the average injury cost an employer $43,000 and annually injuries cost employers more than $53 billion.

It is time to put your restaurant on the path to safety with a traffic pattern policy.

Think of a restaurant traffic pattern as a road map for employees. It defines on which side of a walk way employees move if heading either in or out of the back of house.

To develop the road map simply, you will need a top copy of your stores floor plan. Once you have this floor plan draw routes defining traffic flows. For example, outbound traffic sticks to the west wall and inbound traffic to the east wall.

Also on the plan clearly mark areas employees can stop and congregate to avoid congestion.

Once the map is created, make copies, laminate and hang it in multiple places throughout the restaurant. It is also helpful to post this traffic pattern throughout the restaurant and to further enforce the flow post a few arrows on the walls showing traffic directions.

Once this policy is developed hold a training session and implement.

A policy like this will cut down on collisions, improve safety and make navigating your restaurant more efficient, therefore increasing the rate of which work gets accomplished.

Michael Rich is a safety writer and researcher for Safety Services Company, The largest supplier of safety training materials in North America. To learn more about the safety solutions they offer visit
Tips to Prevent Restaurant Falls

-- Report spills and floor puddles; have them cleaned up immediately.

-- Clean or pick up any other items (such as food spills) from floors as soon as possible.

-- Wear appropriate waterproof non-slip footwear or non-slip shoes. Avoid wearing sandals, open-toed shoes, high heels, or shoes made out of canvas (porous fabric) or leather (smooth soles).

-- Use cones or other hazard signs to identify wet areas.

-- Carry items only at a height that you can safely see over. Do not overfill bussing containers. Make a couple of trips to "clear" a table. The added time it takes to do the job safely will prevent injuries in the long run.

-- Use non-slip mats, no-skid waxes and floor surfaces coated with grit to create non-slip surfaces in wet, slippery and greasy areas.

-- A shoe policy program that provides for appropriate work shoes for employees should be promoted.

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