In the scorching heat of summer, restaurant staff face a unique set of challenges. From the kitchens to the busy dining rooms, the temperature can SOAR, making working conditions difficult. Thankfully, we have some practical advice to help your team beat the heat safely. 

Keep reading for tips from our Risk & Compliance team at Vested HR!  


cook checking line up of orders

Warning Signs of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke 

In the hustle and bustle of a restaurant during the sweltering summer months, it’s crucial for all staff members, from cooks to servers, to recognize the warning signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. These conditions can strike quickly, turning a productive day into a medical emergency. Therefore, it’s essential to be aware of these symptoms and take immediate action.  


Heat exhaustion signs include: 

  • Heavy sweating 
  • Fatigue 
  • Dizziness 
  • Weakness with a rapid pulse 
  • Nausea 
  • Headache 


waitress working in a restaurant

Preparing for the Heat: Steps Every Restaurant Can Take to Beat the Heat 

Working in a restaurant during summer can feel like dancing on hot coals… It’s a test of endurance, skill, and efficiency. But with the right strategies, you can keep your team cool and ensure a productive, safe work environment.  


Safety must be the priority. It’s not only about keeping employees comfortable but also about maintaining productivity and morale in a demanding environment. 


Share these tips with your staff: 

  • Stay Hydrated: Water is your best friend during sweltering summer days. Keep water bottles within easy reach and remember to hydrate every 20-30 minutes.
  • Wear Lightweight, Breathable Clothing: Avoid heavy fabrics that trap heat. Choose breathable materials to help keep your body cool.
  • Take Regular Breaks: Regular breaks can help prevent overheating. Use this time to cool down, rehydrate, and regain your strength for the next round of service. 


Remember, safety never takes a vacation, so make sure your team is equipped for whatever comes their way.  


chef plating food in the kitchen

Identifying Risky Practices  

The easiest way to keep your restaurant employees safe is to adjust any of your current procedures that could be putting them at risk.  


Evaluate your existing protocols and identify areas
where your staff could be exposed to excessive heat,
dehydration, or heat-related illnesses. 


Of course, not all of the following options are feasible for every restaurant. However, we believe some measures can be taken to ensure the safety and comfort of all staff members, regardless of the specific circumstances of the establishment.  


  1. Reevaluate Your Restaurant’s Operational Hours 

One of the effective strategies to protect your staff from the summer heat is to adjust your restaurant hours. You might consider opening and closing earlier, or opening later in the afternoon and staying open later as it cools down. Or, you could close for a few hours during the hottest parts of the day.  


  1. Focus on Cold Options 

Another option to help keep the heat down in the kitchen is to focus on serving cold dishes. This not only keeps your staff cooler but also caters to customers who prefer lighter, refreshing options in the summer heat. Think salads, cold sandwiches, iced beverages, and the like.  


  1. Ensure Ventilation and Air Conditioning 

It’s crucial to ensure your entire restaurant is well-ventilated and air-conditioned. This will not only create a comfortable environment for your staff but also your customers. Regular maintenance checks on your HVAC system can help prevent any unexpected breakdowns during the hot season. 


  1. Utilize Fans 

Don’t underestimate the power of fans. Even with air conditioning, adding fans can boost airflow and make a significant difference in keeping the temperature down. Consider installing them in strategic areas, such as the kitchen or prep area, to help your staff stay cool.  


  1. Awareness and Training 

Last but not least, educate your staff about the dangers of heat-related illnesses. Teach them the signs to watch for, and ensure they know the importance of staying hydrated and taking breaks as needed. More on that below!  


chef mixing dough

The Benefits of Taking a Break During Hot Shifts 

Working in a restaurant during the balmy summer months can be both rewarding and challenging, but the importance of taking regular breaks when the heat is on cannot be overstated. 


Reasons why breaks are important:  

  • Physical relief: Breaks provide an opportunity for staff to escape the heat of the kitchen, rest their feet, and stay hydrated. This can help prevent physical exhaustion and heat-related health issues.
  • Mental refreshment: Brief respites allow the mind to rest, improving mental clarity and reducing the risk of mistakes that could jeopardize customer satisfaction or safety.
  • Improved productivity: Studies have shown that regular breaks can increase productivity and efficiency among workers. 

Remember: Regular breaks are not just a luxury,
but a necessity for maintaining physical health, mental well-being,
and high-quality service during the summer heat. 


Share these break tips with your team:  

  • Every 2-3 hours: Relax in a cool area, hydrate, and snack on light, healthy foods.
  • During slow periods: Step outside for fresh air, do a quick meditation or engage in light conversation to mentally recharge.
  • After handling challenging tasks: Take a moment alone to decompress and refocus before moving to the next task. 


Remember, a well-rested, hydrated, and mentally sharp staff is the key to providing excellent service, even in the hottest summer months. Incorporating regular breaks into your team’s shifts is not just good for them, it’s good for business. 


More Restaurant Support > Stay Compliant: Laws & Regulations Restaurant Owners Should Know 


Keep Your Team Safe  

Ensuring the safety and happiness of your restaurant staff is crucial, especially during the hottest months of the year. With the help of our friendly team at Vested HR, you can effectively manage compliance and create a positive work environment.  

Let’s make this a sizzling, successful, and safe summer in the kitchen! Contact Vested HR today and let us assist you in keeping your staff safe and happy!