Job Safety Analysis for Restaurants During the COVID-19 Pandemic

It is hard to find reliable information regarding the facts of what is true and what is false regarding the COVID-19 pandemic that has broken out in 2019 through 2020. This article will help provide guidelines for the job safety analysis (JSA); also known as job hazard analysis (JHA), of restaurants on how to properly and safely operate while protecting staff and customers from being exposed to the virus. This information is provided from reliable sources such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Nation's Restaurant News (NRN).

The safety of a restaurant's employees and customers should be the number one concern to all employers and management. By creating JSA worksheets and enforcing employees to review them, employers and managers will feel at ease knowing there are procedures set in place that integrate accepted safety and health principles and practices for their employees to follow. Job safety analysis worksheets and activity hazard analysis templates are created efficiently through JSA software, like JSABuilder.

When creating JSAs during the current pandemic, there are many procedures to consider. Restaurants that follow the procedures below will minimize their risk of exposure and protect the integrity of their business.

Restaurant Procedures

  • Encourage workers to stay home if they are sick.
  • Limit the number of customers inside at one time.
  • Avoid direct hand-off, when possible.
  • Display a door or sidewalk sign with the services available (e.g., take-out, curbside), instructions for pickup, and hours of operation.
  • Reserve parking spaces near the front door for curbside pickup only.
  • Train workers in proper hygiene practices and the use of workplace controls.
  • Allow workers to wear masks over their nose and mouth to prevent spread of the virus.
  • Provide a place to wash hands and alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Routinely clean and disinfect surfaces and equipment with Environmental Protection Agency approved cleaning chemicals from List N or that have label claims against the coronavirus. This list can be found here.
  • Practice sensible social distancing by maintaining six feet between co-workers and customers. Mark six-foot distances with floor tape in pickup lines, encourage customers to pay ahead of time by phone or online, temporarily move workstations to create more distance, and install plexiglass partitions, if feasible.
  • Encourage workers to report any safety and health concerns.

Customer Instructions

  • Ask the restaurant what its procedure is for curbside pickup.
  • Pay online or over the phone.
  • If ordering for delivery, use the contactless delivery which is offered by apps like Uber Eats, Seamless, Postmates and Grubhub.
  • Handle packaging carefully, although small risk of obtaining the virus, it is believed that virus can stay on a surface anywhere from a few hours to a few days (International Food Information Council Foundation). Don't place bags directly on surfaces, place on napkins or paper towels that are disposable.
  • Transfer food to your own plates.
  • Remove bags and containers that were delivered outside of your home.

Emergency Planning

It is not only important to have JSAs; created through JSA software, for preventing the spread of the virus, but also to have a plan in place for if an employee or customer gets sick from the virus. According to the FDA, the following steps should be followed in the case of a sick employee:

  • Sick workers should stay home or go home if they develop symptoms during the workday.
    • Workers who have symptoms (e.g., fever, cough, or shortness of breath) should notify their supervisor and stay home or go home.
    • Workers should not return to work until they meet all the criteria to end home isolation, in consultation with healthcare providers.
  • Employers should:
    • Close off areas used by the person who is sick.
    • Clean and disinfect a sick worker's workspace. Wait 24 hours or, if 24 hours is not possible, as long as practical before you clean or disinfect.
    • Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the exposed area, if reasonable given food safety regulations.
    • Collect information about the worker's contacts among co-workers, up to two days prior to symptom onset, to identify other workers who could be considered exposed.
    • If a worker is confirmed infected, inform fellow workers of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

To ensure the continuity of operations, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that critical infrastructure workers may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure to COVID-19, provided they remain symptom-free and additional precautions are taken to protect them and the community. An analysis of core job tasks and workforce availability can allow the employer to match core activities to available skilled workers who have not been exposed. The creation and use of JSA worksheets help ensure employees are performing jobs the safest way possible.

Food Safety

As of now, there is no evidence of food or food packing being associated with the spread of COVID-19, regardless of the status of the workers. Coronavirus is a respiratory virus. It is not considered to be a foodborne illness by the CDC, but similar proactive steps such as not working when sick, proper hand washing, and thorough disinfecting can help mitigate the risk, according to the NRN.

For more information on best practices for restaurants and customers during COVID-19, please visit:

Make sure to set up a free trial account on JSABuilder today to create your company's JSA worksheets! This JSA software also allows users to create activity hazard analysis templates. Then, follow us on Twitter @JSABuilder, where we Tweet about Health and Safety, provide Safety tips, and updates on current Health and Safety topics.