When thinking of restaurant safety, the things that come to mind immediately are safe food and fire prevention. However, there’s another serious hazard that often goes overlooked. Wobbly tables, caused by uneven surfaces and damaged table bases, pose a danger to restaurant goers. Unsuspecting customers may settle in to enjoy that bowl of hot soup or coffee, only to have their dish tip over and spill on their lap. Shards of glass and porcelain from shattered glasses and tableware can also potentially contaminate food or injure customers.
Establishments have certainly seen such accidents before and several have even been faced with lawsuits after spilled hot beverages burned their patrons. Jeff Nelken, a top food safety expert in the restaurant industry and accident prevention specialist, warns that “the balance between wobbly tables and hot liquids is a dangerous tightrope. Hot beverages on a table run between 175 and 185°F; wobbly tables are an accident waiting to happen”. The opportunity to prevent this type of accident requires a commitment to checking stability of tables and chairs. “Does the average operator check his/her tables for safety? Stability of tables and chairs is critical to a safe environment,” Nelken points out.
Many restaurant owners and staff do try to take care of the issue with temporary solutions. “Most of us have seen temporary, inadequate repairs on tables made up of napkins, sugar packets, or cardboard wedges to stabilize the table” says Nelken. But we know that not only are those solutions unsightly and pose a risk to the restaurant’s ambiance and reputation, they are also ineffective when it comes to preventing accidents. Coasters and napkins rarely solve the problem to the customer’s satisfaction and are guaranteed to lose any effect very quickly. Food-based solutions (such a sugar packets) can attract unwanted vermin—another health risk—and waitstaff manually twisting screw-in feet that are in contact with the floor is not hygienic.
While keeping extra heaps of napkins and coasters around may seem like the only solution to restaurant owners, there’s a much better option that eliminates the problem completely. FLAT® has been hard at work for over a decade researching, testing, and developing stabilizing products that eliminate the annoying and dangerous problem of wobbly tables.
Our FLAT Table Bases utilize patented hydraulic technology that allows the feet to automatically adjust to each new surface. The table then automatically locks firmly into position, no matter how many times the tables are moved.
Of course, it’s not always practical for restaurants to replace their table bases with new ones. To remedy issues with existing tables, we have recently launched FLAT Equalizers—screw-in replacement feet. Like their big brother, Equalizers use hydraulics; expanding or compressing to stabilize the table against an uneven surface. A locking mechanism holds the table at the new level, automatically releasing it if the foot is moved from the high spot.
Another often forgotten hazard can present itself when multiple tables are joined for larger parties. These adjoining tables are rarely perfectly aligned, creating uneven surfaces wherever tables meet. The uneven seam is often hidden by a tablecloth or other covering, leaving the guest unaware of the issue. Hot dishes and drinks inadvertently placed on these table seams risk tipping over, falling and spilling or breaking, potentially risking injury to customers. Our products have accounted for this concern as well. Both FLAT Table Bases and FLAT Equalizers help to seamlessly align adjoining tables.
So, when it comes to restaurant safety, it’s important to not overlook the stability of the tables. Ensuring that restaurant tables are stable eliminates the risk of accidents and allows for the owners and staff to focus on other important aspects of safety and running a successful business.
“A stable surface for diners to sit at should be the norm, and operators should be identifying wobbly tables as hazards to their staff and customers” Nelken advises. “A stable table is just the safety beginning. FLAT products are a must for those people that need to get rid of wobbly tables and reduce safety risks in their business”.
To learn more about restaurant safety from Jeff Nelken, visit www.FoodSafetyCoach.com.