Tips to Protect Your Outdoor Dining Room Modern restaurant management

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Providing a safe and enjoyable outdoor dining experience requires careful planning. Here are some tips for eating al fresco to make sure you’re giving your customers the best possible experience.

How to reduce slips, trips and falls outdoors

Your outdoor dining area should have a flat walking surface with no loose materials that could contribute to slips, trips, or falls. The location should be away from entrances / exits with heavy vehicle traffic. Visible barriers, wheel stops and appropriate signs should be in place to alert the driver to the possibility of increased foot traffic. Walkways should be inspected for cords or other obstructions that could result in slipping, tripping and falling. As with indoor dining, outdoor dining should be sufficiently lit so that customers and employees can safely navigate the area.

Use temporary outdoor structures safely

Serving customers in an outdoor space is an enticing feature, but it’s not as straightforward as grabbing a few tables and chairs from the main building. Temporary structures are often installed outside to accommodate more seating and create a more visually appealing space. Temporary structures should be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions and inspected regularly to ensure stability during use.

Society Insurance recommends contacting your local “call before you dig” hotline before you plant stakes in the ground to avoid damage to the utility line. In addition, during installation and regularly afterwards, examine the entire structure to make sure that the poles, ropes, stakes and canvas are in good condition and secure. All umbrellas, blankets or awnings should be secure to prevent damage and possible injury.

Adverse weather risks

Although alfresco dining is particularly appealing on a bright day, restaurateurs should be prepared for inclement weather. It is recommended that you monitor the weather forecast and have a suitable plan in place to respond to forecast weather events. On a rainy day, some areas of the structure may have puddles or pockets, which adds weight. If allowed to accumulate, it could contribute to structural failure and cause injury to customers and employees.

With the rain, often comes the wind. If it’s windy, watch out for stakes, ropes, mounting posts, and tension sets for weakening. Remove umbrellas and other items that might come loose or get damaged before the wind hits. In the event of lightning, the area should be evacuated in the event of extreme weather conditions. When it snows, most temporary outdoor restoration structures are not designed to support the extra weight of the snow and can lead to structural failure. Ultimately, it’s essential to plan for the weather.

Outdoor heating safety

When temperatures drop, there are a variety of units that are used for outdoor heating. Whichever one is used, it should always be listed for commercial use. If you are using an open flame gas pit, it is essential to have a flame arrester present to reduce the risk of customers coming into contact with the open flame. These protectors should sit higher than the open flame to reduce the possibility of interaction with the flame. Additionally, block the area about three feet in all directions of the flame to reduce the risk of clients getting too close to the heated source.

Homeowners who own and operate outdoor heating units should ensure that all employees are trained on how to shut off the fuel supply in an emergency. Fuel supply valves must be clearly marked and visible. In the event of an emergency, fire extinguishers should be adequately located throughout the space where they can be easily identified and accessible. Finally, ventilation is also extremely important. It is imperative to keep the area open as much as possible to replenish fresh air and reduce the risk of exposure to carbon monoxide.

While you can attract more customers to your restaurant by offering alfresco dining, be sure to consult with all local authorities, your lawyer, and insurance agent before taking immediate action.

This information is provided for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute legal or professional advice. It is provided to help you recognize potentially unsafe working conditions or problems and not to establish compliance with any law, rule or regulation.


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