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What OSHA Inspectors Look for at Restaurants

By The Law Office of WT Johnson on May 24, 2013

Food poisoning happens often when people eat out at unsanitary restaurants all over the world. Many countries don’t have health guidelines that restaurants must abide by, but in America the Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulates restaurants to make sure they are following proper health and safety standards.

OSHA inspectors visit restaurants to check them out in hopes of preventing food poisoning for customers and workplace injuries for employees. OSHA inspections are conducted without advanced notice.

The first step of an OSHA inspection at a restaurant is the OSHA officer has an opening conference with the employer’s representative to explain how the establishment was chosen and what the scope of the inspection will be.

A walkthrough is conducted to inspect each work area for safety and health hazards. The officer may interview various employees, but will try to not interrupt the flow of work. Some of the specific areas focused on during an OSHA inspection of a restaurant are:

  • Food handling: In order to prevent food poisoning OSHA inspectors check that:

    • Employees are washing their hands and any utensils in warm water and soap.

    • Counters and other food preparation areas are cleaned with a bleach-based cleanser to eliminate bacteria that causes food poisoning.

    • Sponges are washed in boiling water or a dishwasher with a hot-water cycle before being used on dishes or surfaces that may come in contact with food.

  • Floors: Must be clean and not slippery to prevent slip and fall injuries.

  • Fire Safety: A fire evacuation plan is in place, fire extinguishers have been tested to ensure they work and fire safety has been discussed to prevent burn injuries.

  • Working conditions: There are cool areas for cooks to cool off in and rehydrate after working at the hot stove.

After the inspection a closing conference is held with the employer and employees where the officer discusses what was observed on the tour of the restaurant.

If the inspector finds a violation, the restaurant is fined and the unsafe condition must be corrected by a specific deadline. If the restaurant does not meet this deadline, OSHA can force it to shut down.

If you or a loved one has experienced food poisoning at a restaurant, you deserve compensation for your emotional and physical trauma. Contact the Law Offices of W.T. Johnson today and set-up your free, no-obligation consultation.

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Posted in: Food Poisoning

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