Employees Handling Hot Oil is a Liability. Here’s How to Address That

An expert details why insurance companies loathe traditional oil management tactics.

When employees are handling hot oil, a restaurant is taking on a risk. The same is true of letting grease build up within the restaurant’s hood system—the more grease that accumulates, the more risk is being posed to employees, the restaurant’s customers, and the building itself. Just ask Pete McDonnell, president of Independent Insurance Review, LLC in Indianapolis, who has spent over 30 years underwriting insurance policies in the restaurant industry. That experience means McDonnell has seen all of the things that can go wrong when oil isn’t properly disposed of, or hoods aren’t regularly cleaned.

“Something unique about being an insurance consultant is that you work so closely with a large number of business owners that you see things that others don’t,” McDonnell says. “We see the degree of what claims can do to people and to a business. When a location burns down, for example, it’s not just that it costs money to rebuild the location. That’s also 30 or more employees who are suddenly out of work for 3 to 4 months during the rebuild.”

McDonnell was recently introduced to new technology that he believes will revolutionize the industry and help Operators lower insurance costs. In fact, it already is doing so: Restaurant Technologies’ respective Total Oil Management and AutoMist systems offer automated solutions to two different—but connected—challenges that face the foodservice industry. According to McDonnell, restaurants that install these systems may be eligible for lower commercial insurance premiums.

Total Oil Management automates just about everything for operators: two tanks are installed in the back of a restaurant kitchen, a fresh oil and waste oil tank, and plumbed directly to the fryers where oil travels and fills a deep fryer at the push of a button. When oil is in need of being changed, the system automatically sends the old oil out to the waste tank. Both tanks are regularly filled and drained by Restaurant Technologies employees via a fill box on the exterior of the restaurant; never needing to enter the restaurant. The list of liability and workers compensation exposures being avoided during this process is long, says McDonnell. “Think about what insurance claims are all about when it comes to commercial insurance,” McDonnell says, “It’s about risk management. Restaurant Technologies’ systems help eliminate the human element in multiple steps throughout the process of handling hot oil.”

Further eliminating risk from restaurants is AutoMist, a specialized hood and flue cleaning spray that automatically cleans the kitchen exhaust system on a daily basis, helping eliminate the risk of a grease fire. The best part? An employee never needs to be involved, nor does an outside hood cleaning team that will need access to the restaurant late at night—again, liability and workers compensation exposures are being eliminated in the process.

Restaurants that have installed both systems can save big money, McDonnell says. He and his team are assisting restaurant owners who have installed the systems to bring that information to the attention of their insurance carriers who may be willing to cut insurance premiums by up to 20 percent or more, for those restaurants that install both Total Oil Management and AutoMist. Tina Swanson, vice president of sales at Restaurant Technologies, mentions that on top of the insurance savings, both Total Oil Management and AutoMist help make restaurants not only safer, but also a better place for employees to work by eliminating some of the least favorable jobs in restaurant kitchens. So while lower premiums will appeal to all operators, so too will the opportunity to make their restaurant an employer of choice.

“The savings here are very real,” Swanson says. “But one thing that I don’t want to get lost in the shuffle is how these solutions help take some of the worst jobs in a restaurant and eliminate them completely. Suddenly your employees are happier to come to work, and with the tight labor market that we’re currently experiencing, it’s hard to put a price tag on that.”

For more information on adding AutoMist and Total Oil Management to your kitchen, visit the Restaurant Technologies website.

By Charlie Pogacar