Having recently spent a lot of time in a whole range of catering kitchens, it seems like a good time to have a refresher on health and safety practices in the kitchen.
Remember that you are responsible for your own safety and the safety of others. Accidents occur in many ways but most often can be traced back to one of two basic factors: ignorance or carelessness. You must always be concerned with your own safety and with the safety of others around you.
Look at your hand: Hopefully you have 5 fingers looking back at you. These will help you to remember the 5 golden rules in the kitchen
- Don’t fool around. “Horseplay” is one of the biggest causes of injuries on the job and it may be grounds for dismissal.
- Never work while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, as you are a hazard to yourself and your co-workers. Stay completely alert on the job. Keep your mind on your work: People who let their attention wander are a hazard to themselves and others around them. Lack of interest, personal problems, and distraction by others can all lead to serious accidents in the kitchen.
- Pay particular attention to moving objects, such as equipment, dollies, mixers, and slicers.
- Walk, do not run, in the work areas. People who rush around in the kitchen tend to take chances that increase the likelihood of an accident.
- Avoid back strain by lifting properly.
Kitchen Accidents and Their Causes
Cuts are all too common in commercial kitchens because knives and other cutting implements are constantly in use. That’s why I never argue with a chef. However, when and if they do occur, they should be treated properly and without delay. If infection sets in, it can result in more serious consequences and the loss of many working hours. Remember: preventive care is always cheaper than injury treatment!
Two types of burns occur in the commercial kitchen: minor and serious. Minor burns are usually a result of wet or damp towels used to handle hot pots and pans, or from bumping an exposed area of your arm against a hot surface like and oven rack. More serious burns occur when grease is splashed, when steam escapes or is released too quickly, or when gas is turned on or released unknowingly. Burns are generally more painful than cuts, and they certainly take more time to heal. If the burn is severe enough to cause a blister, it should be treated promptly by trained medical personnel.
Falls can cause some of the most serious injuries in the commercial kitchen. They may disable or incapacitate a person for life. Falls are caused by extreme carelessness, wet floors and aisles, spilled food or grease, and by torn mats or warped floor boards. Clean as you go is very important in this regard.
Strains may not be as serious as other types of injuries, but they are painful and can result in the loss of many working hours. They are caused by carrying loads that are too heavy and by improper lifting practices. Most strains do not require medical attention, but they do require time and care to heal properly.
© Linda Jackson, Food Focus