Brain Food: Look after the pennies - Many a slip

Kitchen workers are particularly susceptible to injury. Boiling pans, sharp knives and slippery floors make their environment especially hazardous. In the US, it is estimated that every time a restaurant employee slips, falls and takes injury time out, it costs the employer $3,000. It was a problem tackled by the aptly named Rich Sarnie, safety manager of US restaurant chain Friendly Ice Cream. Arguing that tumbles were his firm's most frequent and costly cause of injury, Sarnie implemented a raft of preventative safety measures. Slip-resistant mats were tried, different floor-cleaning products experimented with, and employees retrained - but to little effect. Sarnie scrutinised the kitchen staff's footwear and found it inappropriate. In a cost-saving scheme, $10 was paid towards the cost of anti-slip shoes for supervisors. The investment paid off: in the first year, falls were cut by a third, saving $750,000. Says Sarnie: 'Our goal is to get every employee into a pair of slip-resistant shoes.' He clearly has a grip on the problem.

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