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Restaurant Safety Checklist

from PLC Insurance

by Michelle Ferris on Nov 18, 2014

If you own or run a restaurant, you know how important it is to keep things running smoothly. Whether you end up with a snag in your employees, your building, or your equipment, all equate to a tough day and potentially thousands lost in income.

Use this handy checklist to see whether there are items your restaurant should be addressing. A "No" mark indicates something you should take a look at.

For more help with your restaurant protection and insurance, contact PLC Insurance. See our website for a downloadable PDF version of the Restaurant Safety Checklist.

Mark Yes or No next to each listed item. Revisit all "No" marks.


  1. Operable automatic wet-chemical extinguishing system in hood and duct above ranges, grills and fat fryers (the UL 300 is the standard)?
  2. Extinguishing heads capped to prevent a grease buildup?
  3. Extinguishing system(s) has a semi-annual service contract with qualified firm?
  4. Metal hoods equipped with noncombustible filters (filters must be baffles, not mesh)?
  5. Explosion-proof lights over cooking equipment?
  6. Deep-fat fryer protected with individual nozzles connected to suppression system?
  7. Deep-fat fryer is 16+ inches away from open flame, or has an 8 inch high baffle plate in between?
  8. Approved/UL listed grease filters and other grease removal devices?
  9. Filters in exhaust system(s) cleaned at least weekly?
  10. Exhaust system(s) cleaned semi-annually or quarterly by qualified service contractor?
  11. Floors adjacent to deep-fat fryers dry and free of grease?
  12. All electrical equipment properly grounded, portable electrical equipment and extension cords have a ground prong?
  13. Breaker switches properly marked?
  14. Electrical panel boxes have doors closed, clear area of 36 inches in front of boxes?
  15. Switches, switch boxes, outlets and wiring inspected periodically and deficiencies corrected?
  16. Employees have signed off that they understand electrical safety?



  1. Perishable or potentially hazardous foods properly stored and held at the correct temperature?
  2. Foods cooled for refrigeration and freezing properly to avoid bacterial growth?
  3.  Cutting boards washed and sanitized whenever the use switches between raw food and cooked or ready-to-serve food?
  4. Worn-out cutting boards (with deep grooves in them) thrown away and replaced?
  5. Employees wash hands after wiping tables handling money and bussing soiled dishes, before handling place-settings and serving food?
  6. Bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat foods avoided?
  7. Food handled and stored to avoid cross-contamination, avoid injuring clients with food allergies, and avoid hurting those with Celiac (gluten) intolerances?
  8. Fresh fruits and vegetables washed thoroughly?
  9. Meat thermometers used to assure proper cooking temperatures?
  10. Kitchen waste materials stored in metal containers with tight-fitting lids, kept in designated areas and removed by carts to compactor or dumpster?
  11. Sanitizers, detergents, and drying agents separated from other chemicals and stored away from food and dishes?
  12. Serving equipment, counters, and table surfaces sanitized often?



  1. Proper number and type(s) of fire extinguishers charged and tagged to show last service date?
  2. Fire extinguishers properly wall-mounted, identified and adequately accessible for hazard involved?
  3. Employees trained in proper use of extinguishers and manual operation of wet-chemical system protecting cooking equipment?
  4. Sprinkler system control valves secured in open position?
  5. Minimum of 18 inches clearance between stock storage and sprinkler heads?
  6. Clear space of three feet around sprinkler system’s main control valve?
  7. Water pressure indicated on sprinkler system’s lower gauge?
  8. Employees instructed in evacuation procedures for both customers and employees?
  9. Instructions prominently posted for reporting fire and calling Fire Department?
  10. Storage of combustibles not permitted within 30 feet of water heaters, furnaces, or other heat sources stored at proper distance?
  11. Flammable and combustible liquids (solvents, paints, other chemicals, etc.) stored in metal safety cabinets or off-premises?
  12. Fire alarms and smoke detectors in working order?
  13. Matches, cigarettes, and open flames handled and disposed of properly?



  1. Stock properly and securely stacked (on racks/shelves/pallets with lightest items on top)?
  2. Good housekeeping maintained, aisles clear, storage room orderly, floors free of debris, storage has proper clearances from hot-water heater and sprinklers?
  3. Shelving and racks secured to avoid tipping, ladder is secured, and all in good condition?
  4. Refrigeration and air-conditioning compressors clean, well ventilated, kept clear of combustibles?
  5. Refrigeration system regularly serviced?
  6. Walk-in cooler and freezer doors provided with operable interior-release mechanisms in good repair, and an alarm system?
  7. Ice storage is covered?
  8. Cold storages floor surfaces free of ice?
  9. Stock stored and covered correctly?
  10. Recommended holding times established for food followed?
  11. When restocking, new stock placed at rear and old stock moved up front for use first?



  1. Bathroom fixtures in good repair?
  2. Are highchairs, tables, and seating in good condition?
  3. Floor free from food spillage, silverware, broken glassware, loose mats, loose tiles, torn carpets or other hazards?
  4. Portable signs available to indicate wet-mopped floors or temporary hazards?
  5. Stair treads equipped with abrasive strips or other nonskid surface?
  6. Outdoor walkways checked frequently for tripping hazards; repairs made promptly?
  7. Indoor-outdoor carpeting or other type of mat provided at entrance doors in inclement weather?
  8. Changes in interior elevations properly illuminated (Note: this is the biggest percentage of claims)?
  9. Floors adjacent to soft-drink syrup tanks cleaned regularly?
  10. Broken glass cleaned up and disposed of safely and promptly?
  11. Floors around sink mopped dry?
  12. Floors kept clean and dry?
  13. Kitchen floors cleaned daily using heavy-duty cleaner and degreaser?
  14. If floor is wet, “Caution – Wet Floor” signage used?
  15. Floor mats (ensure they lie flat and do not slide on floor. If unsafe, remove) used at all entrances?
  16. Non-slip matting in areas that tend to be wet?
  17. Exits properly marked, illuminated and unobstructed; doors kept unlocked during hours of operation or equipped with panic bars?
  18. Emergency lighting equipment functional?
  19. Chairs and tables well maintained and arranged so that they don’t block emergency exits?
  20. Aisles kept clear?



  1. Paths and parking lot well illuminated?
  2. Steps, ramps, grounds, parking lot in good repair, free of holes, litter, major cracks, or obstructions? Well illuminated?
  3. Snow and ice promptly removed from parking lot and all walkway surfaces, when necessary?
  4. Trash compactor in good repair?



  1. Establishment has controls in place to avoid serving liquor to minors and intoxicated persons (such as TIPS: Training in Intervention Procedures for Servers, or another recognized program)?
  2. Does the insured make arrangements (such as calling a taxi) to get intoxicated persons home?
  3. Are employees trained in identifying and controlling excessive liquor consumption?
  4. Drink limits (to discourage excessive drinking) in place?



  1. Pest control services performed by a licensed, independent extermination contractor with substances used approved for use in food establishments?
  2. Heimlich Maneuver posters in plain view; employees trained, where required by law?
  3. Fully equipped first-aid kit always available; at least one employee on each shift trained in its use?
  4. Required posters (wages, hygiene, safety, etc.) hung in areas easily visible for employees?
  5. Emergency telephone numbers for police and emergency medical services prominently posted?
  6. Smoking regulations posted (if applicable)?
  7. Workers trained to use equipment and chemicals safely?
  8. Policy focusing on proper non-slip, good traction, closed-toe footwear implemented and upheld?
  9. Compressed gases secured in upright position with valve protection caps in place?



  1. Employees trained to recognize and report suspicious activities?
  2. Cash registers emptied and left open during non-operating hours?
  3. Cash drawers skimmed frequently to reduce the cash in each drawer?
  4. Cash counts done prior to opening and at shift changes?
  5. Employees know how to detect counterfeit bills?
  6. Bank deposits made at least once or twice daily with varying times and routes?
  7. Combination to safe changed after turnover of money-handling personnel?
  8. Locks charged after turnover of personnel having possession of keys?
  9. Back door equipped with a panic lock so it can be kept locked at all times, equipped with hinge pins?
  10. Is front door used, if possible, for late food supplier deliveries?
  11. Cash register tallies checked against deposits daily; other checks used to detect employee dishonesty?
  12. Exterior lights turn on at dusk and for bad weather?
  13. Burned-out lights replaced immediately?
  14. Is landscaping trimmed away from walkways to eliminate possible hiding places?
  15. Has crime in the area been evaluated to determine the need for additional security measures?



  1. Are standardized statements, such as “Corner!” or “Behind you!” called out to prevent accidents when carrying plates or hot items?
  2. When moving large hot items or multiple hot items (i.e. hot water containers, coffee urns, containers of hot food), is a cart used?
  3. With hot foods, are oven mitts or potholders used?
  4. Are customers warned that plates are hot?
  5. Hot liquids carried / moved in closed containers?
  6. Hot liquids poured with caution, and ingredients added to hot liquids done in small amounts gently (to prevent burns from splashing)?
  7. Pot handles turned inward so as not to protrude over edges of counters, ranges or tables?
  8. Release valve used before opening pressure cookers or steam kettles?
  9. Dishes and utensils taken out of service and discarded when chipped, cracked or broken?
  10. Knives stored properly when not in use, are well maintained and used correctly?
  11. Proper guards in place and used with meat-slicing machines?
  12. Equipment is properly guarded (such as slicing machines, mixers, air compressors, etc)?
  13. Plunger used to feed foods into choppers and grinders?
  14. Is cooking oil at room temperature before changing or straining?
  15. Employees have signed off that they understand safe lifting procedures?
  16. Employees have signed off that they understand proper knife use and how to prevent cuts?



  1. Have all maintenance issues been reported as required?
  2. Have maintenance-related items been reported, called in or entered on the restaurant computer?
  3. Have unsafe practices been addressed with all employees?
  4. Is someone responsible for following up on items needing improvement?
  5. Are serious reported hazards given priority for correction?
  6. Are there procedures in place to investigate accidents/incidents occurring on premises?
  7. Are all employees trained to recognize potential/existing hazards?
  8. Have hazards identified last month been corrected yet? (If “NO”, specify which hazards below.)



  1. Suppression System’s manual pull switches located towards or adjacent to an exit (so that the worker can pull it while evacuating), away from cooking equipment, and is visible?
  2. Fuel supply for cooking equipment has an automatic shut-off valve when extinguishing system activates?
  3. Deep-fat fryer units controlled and provided with high-temperature fuel shut-offs; overflow gutters provided?
  4. Sprinkler system(s) tested and maintained annually; written records kept on premises?
  5. Secure handrails on all stairs and steps?
  6. Non-exit doors (to restroom area, kitchen, closets, etc.) identified properly?
  7. Bathrooms, floor space, and walkways ADA compliant?
  8. Floors have at least a SCOF (static coefficient of friction) of 0.5 – 0.8?
  9. If SCOF of floor is low, has floor been treated (replaced or abrasive floor treatment / chemical etching) or is replacement/treatment scheduled?
  10. Car stops (bumper strips) painted contrasting colors so they are clearly visible?
  11. ADA compliant parking space?
  12. ADA ramps for access?



  1. If item weighs more than 40 pounds, use two people or a hand truck.
  2. Before lifting, plan your path. Remove obstructions from your path.
  3. If your hands or the item you are lifting is wet or greasy, do not lift it.
  4. For items with sharp or rough edges, wear gloves when lifting.
  5. With heavier items, get help from a coworker if you can.
  6. In front of the object, position your feet 6” to 12” apart, with one foot slightly in front of the other.
  7. Bend at the knees, not the back. Keep your back straight. Hold object as close to your body as possible.
  8. Lift with smooth, gradual motions. Do not jerk or yank on the load.
  9. Do not lift objects from the floor to a level above your waist in one motion. Set the load down on a table or bench, readjust your grip, and then lift the rest of the way.
  10. If you need to change directions, do not twist at the waist. Pivot your feet and turn your entire body.
  11. Put down objects in the same way you picked them up, but in reverse order.



  1. Broken glass is picked up with a broom and dustpan. Put glass in “Broken Glass” container.
  2. Can lids should be placed inside empty cans before disposal. If possible, use can openers that cut a “safe edge” onto lid and can to prevent injuries.
  3. Do not stack drinking glasses inside each other.
  4. Ice should not be scooped with a drinking glass. Use a metal scoop.
  5. Chipped or cracked glassware should be put in the “Broken Glass” container.
  6. Employees trained on how to use and clean slicers safely.
  7. When cleaning exposed edges of slicer blades, wear a mesh glove.
  8. When operating slicer, pay attention – avoid distractions; watch your work.
  9. Do not put hand on top of the blade guard while operating a slicer.
  10. Replace guards after cleaning or making adjustments to a slicer.
  11. Turn slicer off and unplug when not in use.
  12. When using knives, cut away from body.
  13. Correct knife used for each job.
  14. Knives used for cutting, slicing, dicing, etc., not as screwdrivers, ice picks, or razors.
  15. Keep knives sharp.
  16. Knives carried with the point down.
  17. Knives stored in sheaths, drawers, or racks when not in use.
  18. Never attempt to catch a falling knife.
  19. Always use a cutting board. To prevent slippage, place a damp towel under the cutting board.
  20. Wash knives by themselves, and never leave a knife soaking under soapy water.




  1. Power cords should be kept away from the path of vacuum cleaners, floor polishers, and slicers.
  2. Disconnect appliances by pulling on the plug, not the cord.
  3. Anything with cut, worn, frayed, improperly spliced, or damaged power cords should not be used.
  4. When operating electrical appliances, do not stand in water or on wet surfaces.
  5. Ground plugs and power cords should be checked for worn insulation regularly.
  6. Replace frayed electrical cords immediately.
  7. Electrical work should be done only by a licensed electrician.
  8. Check circuit breaker. Put hand up to circuit breaker panel to check for heat. If it feels warm or hot, call electrician immediately.


© 2019, PLC Insurance. The reader assumes all responsibilities for his/her own actions in regards to any items discussed in this report. Adherence to all applicable laws and regulations, federal, state and local, governing the use of any product or service described in this report in the US or any other jurisdiction is the sole responsibility of the reader. The publisher and author assume no responsibility or liability whatsoever on the behalf of the reader of these materials. The reader is encouraged to consult directly with his/her insurance professional.

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