Rev up roadside safety for restaurant workers

Workers on curbside patios face hazards of working near traffic, and employers must assess the risk, to keep workers and customers safe. 

Photo of an outdoor curbside patio of a restaurant, with a barrier in place to protect patrons from traffic.

Photo credit:

B.C.’s annual summer Cone Zone campaign reminds drivers to slow down and move over when they see people working on the roadside.

You might picture road-maintenance crews, first responders, municipal workers, and construction crews working at the roadside. Yet as we head into the summer of 2021, many restaurant workers are also close to the road, serving customers on curbside patios.

Roadside work can be dangerous. Between 2011 and 2020 in B.C., 12 roadside workers were killed and 207 were injured and missed time from work as a result of being hit by a motor vehicle.

Employers must assess risk to workers

WorkSafeBC reminds restaurant employers to assess risk to workers in close proximity to traffic.

“Employers need to understand how their workers may be harmed by traffic; the risk should be assessed like any other hazard in the workplace,” says Lisa Houle, a Consultation and Education Services manager at WorkSafeBC. “Then they can identify reasonable measures to control those risks.”

Here are some ways employers can improve safety on curbside patios:

  • Use reflective signs to make the patio structure more visible to motorists
  • Understand and follow all municipal permitting requirements for temporary curbside patios in your jurisdiction.
  • Where possible, locate patios in low-traffic areas such as side streets, cul-de-sacs, or “no through road” streets.
  • Leave enough buffer space between traffic and the patio structure to allow for passing bicycles and wider vehicles.
  • Place a concrete or other type of safety barrier to protect the patio structure from incoming traffic. Some municipalities may assist with providing concrete safety barriers.

Bylaws differ by municipality

Visit your municipal website for information on permitting regulations for temporary curbside restaurant patios in your area. Each municipality has its own bylaws.

WorkSafeBC outlines information for employers about how Step 3 of the B.C. government’s Restart plan affects workplaces.

For information about safety for the more traditional roadside workers, see my post Keeping workers safe in the cone zone.

Share this safety message:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *