Controlling Restaurant Workers’ Compensation Costs


Start by Reviewing Safety, Claims and Insurance

Although workplace accidents and injuries can be costly for restaurants, taking steps to promote worker safety and reduce the number and severity of employee injuries can lower costs and improve employee morale and productivity.

Across all businesses, every year, workers’ compensation costs typically dwarf those of other casualty insurance coverages, including auto liability and general liability.

Besides the need to find ways to replace employees unable to work due to injury, restaurants may be on the hook for significant medical bills, higher insurance costs and in some cases legal expenses. In addition to these direct costs, restaurants may have to deal with substantial indirect injury-related costs, including poor employee morale, greater turnover and lower productivity.

The remedies to manage escalating workers’ compensation costs are fairly straightforward: reduce the number and severity of injuries, manage any claims effectively, and check your insurance program.

Reducing the Number of Injuries

Of course, the best way to reduce the impact of injuries is to prevent them from happening in the first place. If they’re not doing so already, restaurants should consider working with risk management advisors to track worker injuries, determine causes, and identify remedies.

By examining employee injuries over time, they can spot trends and pinpoint issues where safety measures can make a difference. These can range from installing slip-proof flooring in certain areas or requiring employees to wear appropriate footwear, to developing and implementing safety programs, including the establishment of worker training.

The good news is that safety training now can be conducted online so it doesn’t interfere with work routines. Participation can be tracked and results can be monitored. Thus, restaurants with multiple locations can test safety measures at one location and make necessary adjustments before rolling them out across the organization.

Claims Management

All employee injuries should be reported to insurance carriers or third party administrators right away. Restaurants should have protocols for contacting and communicating with injured workers. Typically, starting the flow of communication with an injured worker quickly can help circumvent potential issues, give employees confidence that the employer cares about them, and help ensure they get the appropriate medical treatment on a timely basis. Check if your insurer offers triage services to be an intake center for claims, including nurse case managers to help the employee access any care required.

In dealing with injured employees, restaurants should also have return to work programs that are designed to meet the needs of individual employees. They may include modified duty programs that can be effective in reducing lost-time costs. When such accommodations can’t be made at a specific restaurant, some employers use specialized transitional duty services that arrange for recovering employees to work at charitable organizations until they are able to go back to their restaurant jobs.

Insurance Policy Review

Restaurants should check if their insurance policy is right for their needs and loss experience. They should also make sure they are providing all information to their insurer accurately, including correctly recording the job classifications of their employees.

Get Help Managing Workers’ Compensation Costs

For assistance with all aspects of managing workers’ compensation exposures, contact Restaurant Programs of America at (866) 324-1099.



By Brian Eighmy

Director of Claims Management

RPA Insurance Services, LLC