young African American smiling working in the food industry at deli

Food Service Industry Safety

Restaurants and other eating and drinking businesses employ millions of people in the United States. The federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) provides resources to help workers in the restaurant industry stay safe and healthy on the job.


OSHA’s general industry standards related to foodborne illness generally apply to persons engaged in a business affecting commerce who have employees, but does not include certain public employers (i.e., the federal government, state governments, or political subdivisions of a state).

Note: Twenty-five states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have OSHA-approved State Plans and have adopted their own standards and enforcement policies. For the most part, these states adopt standards that are identical to federal OSHA. However, some states have adopted different standards applicable to this topic or may have different enforcement policies.

Food Service Employers’ Responsibilities Under OSHA

Key employer requirements include:

  • Furnishing to each of their employees a place of employment which is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to their employees;
  • Informing employees of the existence, location and availability of their medical and exposure records when they first begin employment and at least annually thereafter; and
  • Providing these records to employees or their designated representatives within 15 working days of a request.

Food Service Employees’ Rights Under OSHA

Key employee rights include:

  • Filing a complaint with OSHA if they believe that there are either violations of OSHA standards or serious workplace hazards;
  • Requesting information from the employer on safety and health hazards in the workplace, chemicals used in the workplace, tests the employer has done to measure chemical, noise and radiation levels, precautions the employer should take and procedures to be followed if employees are involved in an incident or are exposed to hazardous chemicals or other toxic substances;
  • Reviewing the Log and Summary of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA 300) at a reasonable time and in a reasonable manner or have an authorized representative do so.
    • Note: There are two classes of employers that are partially exempt from routinely keeping injury and illness records. First, employers with 10 or fewer employees at all times during the previous calendar year are exempt from routinely keeping OSHA injury and illness records. OSHA’s revised recordkeeping regulation maintains this exemption. Additionally, establishments in certain low-hazard industries are also partially exempt from routinely keeping OSHA injury and illness records.
  • Accessing relevant exposure and medical records; and
  • Requesting copies of appropriate standards, rules, regulations and requirements that the employer should have available at the workplace.

Food Service Safety Resources

The following resources describe common hazards and potential safety solutions for workers and employers in the food service industry:

Restaurant Youth Worker Safety Tools

State Law Resources

The following links provide food safety standards and/or licensing requirements by state: