The safety of restaurant furniture may not seem like a subject with which owners should be overly concerned. But any restaurant's furniture can be a potential liability to customers and staff alike, much like the potential of food poisoning.

Consider restaurant bar furniture. Bar stools with uneven legs can easily tip over, causing injury to the unsuspecting customer who tried to sit on it. Loose seats can result in the same situation. Falling off an unsafe bar stool is no fun and potentially very dangerous. The same is true of a bar-height table with a pedestal leg that is missing one of its tips. An elbow leaning in just the right spot can tip that table-and all of its contents-into a customer's lap. Hot soup, anyone?

Restaurant chairs can have the same problem. Legs should be checked regularly to make sure they are even so they do not tip over and result in a serious back injury to the occupant. Any screws that attach the legs to the seats should be checked routinely to ensure that none have worked loose. If the chairs are made of wood, they should not only be cleaned on a regular basis, but they should be checked for splinters. Restaurant tables can also splinter when made of wood. Metal splinters are rare but can be even more painful when they catch on someone's skin. If tables and chairs are made of plastic, splits in their surfaces or joints could result in pinched flesh-not life threatening, certainly, but potentially a threat to the restaurant's customer base.

Of course a furniture supply service should ensure that its products are free of such defects as splinters, uneven legs, missing screws, or cracked surfaces. When a business owner or buyer goes to buy restaurant furniture, he or she should look for defects that might cause problems. But it is also important for the restaurant staff to inspect the furniture on a regular basis after it has been installed. And whenever a customer complains about such defects, the restaurant manager or owner should address the issue immediately. Just as unacceptable food or service can result in the loss of a customer, so can unsafe furniture.

Restaurant furniture is generally durable and problems are infrequent. But they can and do occur. Restaurant seating should offer more than comfort and aesthetics. It must offer safety to potential occupants. Any restaurateur understands that safety is paramount.