Kitchen Safety in the Workplace: Understanding Employer Liability and Employee Rights

LAw in Serbia


The kitchen, undoubtedly a bustling hub of culinary creativity, is also a workplace that comes with its fair share of risks. A recent Serbian court ruling* highlights the importance of ensuring safety measures in such environments, and how the employer’s failure to do so can lead to severe consequences for the employees. Join us as we delve into real-life court cases and explore the obligations of employers, the rights of employees, and the significance of a safe working environment in the kitchen.

1. The Employer’s Responsibility

In accordance with regulations on occupational health and safety, employers hold a crucial obligation – organizing work and implementing safety measures to protect their employees’ life and health while on the job. While employees are expected to exercise ordinary care, it is the employer’s duty to provide an environment that minimizes risks to their well-being. Failure to fulfill this obligation results in liability for any damages incurred by the employees due to workplace injury.

2. Kitchen: A Workplace with Increased Risk

The kitchen, often a realm of culinary creativity, can also be deemed a workplace with an increased risk of injury. Various activities carried out in the kitchen involve handling sharp tools, hot surfaces, and unpredictable elements. One such Serbian court case revolved around an incident where the plaintiff suffered an injury while cutting vegetables, specifically celery, using a professional knife.

3. Objective Liability of the Employer

In the aforementioned case, despite the defendant providing personal protective equipment and ensuring the plaintiff was trained for safe work, the court found the employer to be objectively liable for the damages. The use of a professional knife, an inherently dangerous object, heightened the risk to the surroundings, making the holder liable for any resulting injuries, regardless of fault.

4. Importance of Proper Supervision and Care

The court emphasized that the use of dangerous objects like the professional knife requires utmost care and supervision. Even though the plaintiff had protective gear and training, the risk of injury cannot be entirely eliminated when handling such objects. Therefore, it is essential for employers to continuously assess risks and implement safety protocols to protect their employees.

5. Compensation for Damages

The court ruling considered both material and non-material damages when determining compensation for the plaintiff. Medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, and lost wages fall under material damages, while non-material damages encompass physical pain, fear, disfigurement, and impairment of general health. The circumstances of each case dictate the compensation to be awarded.


The Serbian court’s judgment serves as a crucial reminder of the employer’s responsibility to create a safe working environment, especially in workplaces like the kitchen, where risks are prevalent. Employees have the right to safety and protection of life and health, and employers must take every measure to fulfill this obligation. Proper risk assessment, training, and safety protocols can significantly reduce the likelihood of workplace injuries and create a harmonious workplace where creativity can thrive without compromising safety. By prioritizing safety in the kitchen, employers not only protect their employees but also safeguard their businesses from potential legal repercussions. Remember, a safe kitchen is a productive kitchen!

*From the Judgment of the Court of Appeals in Niš, Gž1 2037/2022, dated May 12, 2022 – Bulletin of the Court of Appeals in Niš

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