Having a plan in place for winter weather is imperative in the food service industry. The plan should include a list of employee’s names and numbers scheduled, as well as a list of employees willing to face the weather to cover call offs. Knowing each employee’s proximity from the restaurant is also important so you can predict the call offs and adjust the schedule accordingly. The plan should also include a list of emergency numbers for quick reference in case of an accident inside or outside your location. The last thing in your plan should be a list of shut off valves and their locations in case of power failure. Make your employees aware of the plan and its location for quick reference.
Keep the floors dry and clear
OSHA regulations state; wet floors due to water conditions or the entry of vehicles containing melting snow would be subject to 29 CFR 1910.22(a)(2). The first sentence of 29 CFR 1910.22(a)(2) requires floors to be maintained in a clean and, so far as possible, dry condition. Depending on the circumstances, this could require more than regularly scheduled housekeeping. Contrary to popular believe setting out a “Wet Floor” sign is not a proper procedure and in no way covers your store from any on site accident repercussion. To ensure floors in your establishment stay safe and dry utilize mats in entry ways. This will absorb most of the moisture before customers enter the business. Rotate the mats when they become too wet with spare mats or mats in lower traffic areas. Another good practice is to put a monitoring schedule in place. Checking for excess water on 15 minute intervals will eliminate most messes and potential accidents.
Snow and ice should be removed completely before your location opens (if applicable) with continuous removal throughout the day as needed. If you are unable to remove the snow/ice sufficiently you should hire a contractor. When dealing with a contractor it is very important to have clear and specific directions of what is expected and how often they will return throughout the day. Give extra attention to high traffic areas as well as walkways, stairs, and ramps. The use of deicers and/or abrasives should be used to melt the ice and give traction. Encourage your employees to report any areas in need of attention, and monitor the outside areas often so you can remain proactive not reactive.
Check out The Webstaurant's blog, " Winter Safety Tips For Sidewalks And Parking Lots"
If you notice your customers are having a hard time opening the entrance doors because of a vacuum-like pressure, this is a good sign that your exhaust vents may be blocked with snow. When exhaust vents are blocked it creates a negative air pressure, causing poor indoor air quality and massive heat removal. Most exhaust vents are located on the roof. We do not advise you to do this yourself! Contact Clark Service Group instead, we will have a trained technician come to your location and remove the blockage. To schedule this service go to www.clarkservicegroup.com. We are here to help.
Understand that a power outage is a very real threat during winter storms. To prepare for power outages make sure generators are in working order to provide energy to refrigeration, emergency lighting, and basic kitchen equipment. If you do not have a generator it is important to have a current inventory of product in need of refrigeration. Also educate all your employees of temperature danger zones so food can be handled properly. Have your energy supplier’s number on hand so you have an idea of how long the power will be out. This will help you determine the plan of action best suited for your establishment.
Prevent pipes from freezing
As temperatures drop the water in pipes can freeze resulting in a complete loss of water to your establishment. The best way to prevent this is to be proactive. Make sure all water pipes are properly insulated; this will keep them from completely freezing shut leaving your establishment with no water. If you are not sure your pipes are insulated, and the threat of winter weather is leaving you little time to prepare, you can prevent your pipes from freezing by turning the water on slightly. A few drips a minutes will cause water to constantly move in the pipes making it harder to freeze.
Cover open display coolers and cold tables
It’s no surprise as the temperatures go down the heat is turned up. Increased heat in the kitchen can cause potential problems for open display coolers and cold tables. These units sometimes have problems keeping temperatures and can result in a loss of product. It’s a good idea to cover these coolers when not in use. This will allow the unit to conserve energy and work efficiently when the heat is cranked up. Monitor temperatures to avoid loss and have an action plan in place to relocate product if necessary.
As most of you have already experienced, food service industry sales drop dramatically in winter months. According to National Restaurant Association, the foodservice industry hits a low in January during a major drop in sales from December to February. Winter precipitation will worsen these numbers and can possibly bring sales to a halt. The important thing to remember is the snow will melt, and customers will return. A way to prepare for the decrease in sales is to keep food inventory low, have planned maintenance programs to prolong the life of equipment, and only schedule the staff needed to run during slow times.
Remember if you are experiencing foodservice equipment problems during these harsh conditions, we will still be there. We offer 24 hour emergency service, and our technicians are specifically trained to handle these situations. The weather might be unpredictable but Clark Service Group is not. Visit www.clarkserivcegroup.com to schedule service. Like us on Facebook for more helpful equipment maintenance tips.
By: Becky Simmons