10 Common Near Misses in Restaurants

Despite rigorous protocols and a focus on customer satisfaction, near misses still occur in restaurants.

Recognizing and addressing these near misses are fundamental steps toward enhancing safety protocols, minimizing risks, and ensuring the well-being of both guests and staff. Here are 11 common near misses in restaurants:

1. Slips, Trips, and Falls

Near misses involving slips, trips, and falls may occur when potential hazards such as wet floors, uneven surfaces, or cluttered walkways are identified and rectified before causing injuries to guests or staff. Regularly mopping spills, using signage to warn of wet floors, and keeping walkways clear of obstacles are essential for preventing slip-related incidents.

2. Kitchen Burns and Scalds

Near misses related to kitchen burns and scalds may involve incidents where potential risks, such as hot surfaces, boiling liquids, or steam, are identified and mitigated before causing injuries to kitchen staff. Providing heat-resistant gloves, enforcing proper handling procedures for hot items, and ensuring adequate ventilation in kitchen areas are crucial for preventing kitchen-related burns and scalds.

3. Food Contamination Risks

Near misses involving food contamination may occur when potential hazards, such as cross-contamination, improper storage temperatures, or inadequate hygiene practices, are identified and addressed before causing foodborne illnesses among guests. Implementing stringent food safety protocols, conducting regular hygiene training for kitchen staff, and monitoring food storage and handling practices are essential for preventing food contamination incidents.

4. Allergic Reactions

Near misses related to allergic reactions may involve incidents where potential allergen exposure risks, such as mislabeled ingredients or cross-contact with allergens, are identified and prevented before causing allergic reactions among guests with food allergies. Providing allergy awareness training for staff, implementing clear labeling of allergenic ingredients, and having protocols in place for handling allergy requests are crucial for preventing allergic reaction incidents.

5. Kitchen Fires

Near misses involving kitchen fires may occur when potential fire hazards, such as grease buildup, unattended cooking equipment, or malfunctioning appliances, are identified and addressed before causing fires that endanger guests and staff. Conducting regular inspections of kitchen equipment, providing fire extinguisher training for kitchen staff, and maintaining clean and well-ventilated cooking areas are essential for preventing kitchen fire incidents.

6. Choking Hazards

Near misses related to choking hazards may involve incidents where potential choking risks, such as improperly cut food or foreign objects in meals, are identified and corrected before causing choking incidents among guests. Providing training on proper food preparation and serving techniques, emphasizing the importance of monitoring guests for signs of distress, and having protocols in place for responding to choking emergencies are crucial for preventing choking incidents.

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7. Unsafe Handling of Utensils and Equipment

Near misses involving unsafe handling of utensils and equipment may occur when potential risks, such as improper knife handling, unsafe lifting techniques, or inadequate training on equipment operation, are identified and remediated before causing injuries to kitchen staff. Providing training on proper utensil and equipment use, enforcing safe lifting practices, and conducting regular safety assessments of kitchen tools are essential for preventing incidents related to unsafe handling practices.

8. Chemical Exposure Risks

Near misses related to chemical exposure may involve incidents where potential risks, such as improper handling of cleaning chemicals or inadequate ventilation in storage areas, are identified and mitigated before causing injuries or health problems among staff. Providing training on proper chemical handling procedures, using eco-friendly cleaning products when possible, and ensuring proper ventilation in cleaning areas are essential for preventing chemical exposure incidents.

9. Overcrowding and Congestion

Near misses involving overcrowding and congestion may occur when potential risks, such as inadequate spacing between tables, narrow walkways, or insufficient seating capacity, are identified and addressed before causing discomfort or safety hazards for guests. Implementing seating arrangements that allow for adequate distancing, controlling guest flow during peak hours, and providing clear signage to guide guests are crucial for preventing incidents related to overcrowding and congestion.

10. Workplace Violence and Harassment

Near misses related to workplace violence and harassment may involve incidents where potential risks, such as verbal abuse from guests or coworker conflicts, are identified and defused before escalating into physical altercations or emotional distress among staff. Providing training on conflict resolution and de-escalation techniques, establishing a zero-tolerance policy for harassment, and offering support resources for staff experiencing workplace stress are essential for preventing incidents of workplace violence and harassment.


By recognizing and addressing these common near misses, restaurants can enhance safety practices, minimize risks, and create a positive dining experience for guests and a safe working environment for staff. Emphasizing proactive risk management, investing in staff training and safety equipment, and fostering a culture of safety awareness are essential for preventing near misses and ensuring the continued success and reputation of restaurants. Through collective efforts and a commitment to safety excellence, restaurants can thrive as welcoming and secure spaces for customers and employees alike.

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