I started working at a drive-thru fast food restaurant when I was 15. I was so excited to get my first big girl job, and the 50% discounts were very appealing. I remember on my first training shift we were walked around the restaurant, told where everything was, and then sent to a room to watch a mandatory safety training video for about 40 minutes. After watching the DVD we were required to tell our supervisor we had completed it, and then we could all go home for the day.
When I was watching the video, it was very clear that the majority of the situations described in the video were not safety issues I was going to have to worry about. I remember a lot of people in hard hats being told how to operate machinery safely. What did that have to do with serving sundaes? Not a lot. After watching the video, I almost completely forgot about all the training instructions, as I didn’t think I would need it in my new line of work.
While I didn’t need the forklift operating training I had seen in the video, safety was definitely an issue working in a drive-though restaurant. We were required to wear non-slip shoes because of the amount of liquid that would be spilled on the floor daily, but that was our only real safety precaution. Everyday we were required to stock cups in the high shelves at the front counter, and to do so we had to stand on a rickety ladder. Sometimes we would have to ask fellow co-workers to hold the ladder in place as we tossed up the cups, due to the fact that it often slid on the floor. We were trained on how to make all of the desserts at the front counter, but were never really told how to safely operate the ice cream blending machine, which actually ended up cutting my finger one day. The drive-thru window often broke, which meant we had to hold it up with one hand while delivering food to the customer in the car. The window would slide down fast when we let it go, and a friend of mine got her wrist crushed by it one day. She was sent home and missed work for three days.
Looking back at that time now, I realize how many workplace hazards I was not prepared for. Today, I would never climb a wobbly ladder on a slippy floor, but when you’re working your first job, you want to look competent and capable. I know I would have benefitted from more hands-on safety training by someone who understood the risks that came from working in that particular restaurant.
While workplace safety training videos give a good overall introduction to workplace hazards, every organization should have its own health and safety training to ensure workers are prepared to deal with the possible risks on the job. While I’ll always miss my ice cream discounts, I’m definitely glad I don’t have to deal with dangerous drive-thru windows anymore, and I hope that restaurant has created some new health and safety training programs for its employees.
-Contributed by Rachel