The Most Common Injuries for Kitchen Staff
Hot surfaces, sharp knives, steam, splattering oil, and many other hazardous objects. It sounds more like a torture chamber than a place of work, right? Restaurant kitchens definitely resemble that description, making them a potential location for a lot of injuries.
Like any industry, knowing the potential dangers can help you prevent them. A safe environment minimizes loss in productivity, medical expenses, and compensation costs. You’ll also avoid hefty penalties from organizations like OSHA.
Investing in a safe work environment can be costly, but according to OSHA, safety pays. The reduction in workplace accidents improves productivity, along with finances. With such great benefits on the line, isn’t it worth it to put in a little effort to keep your kitchen staff safe?
So, what kind of injuries do you need to watch out for in the kitchen? Here are a few common ones and what you can do to prevent them.
Slips, Trips, and Falls
According to the National Safety Council, falls are the third leading cause of deaths from unintentional injury. Death is the worst-case scenario consequence of falls, but it’s not the only one. A fall can cause disability in a mere second, forever changing the lives of the victims.
Slips can happen because of a spill or wet floors. Even the wrong choice in footwear can cause slips and slides that only ice skaters can rival.
Any clutter left on the kitchen floor, like empty crates and boxes, can cause staff to trip and fall. Careless positioning of power cables also poses the same risk. Other causes of slips, trips, and falls in the kitchen are:
- Uneven floors
- Poor lighting
- Unsuitable floor coverings
- Insufficient cleaning
The kitchen staff stands for hours, so sensible, oil-resistant shoes are more than necessary. In most cases, the right choice of footwear can keep your staff comfortable while they work and also safe. There’re many types of slip-resistant shoes that can prevent slipping injuries.
Another way to prevent slipping is to encourage good housekeeping practices. That includes cleaning spills from floors immediately and marking wet floors with signs. Non-slip mats and no-skid waxes also work where spills may occur, such as near sinks, ice machines, and greasy areas.
All floors in the kitchen must be free of clutter and anything that your staff might trip over. Packages delivered to the kitchen area must have a designated storage space, so they’re out of the way.
Besides being a tripping hazard, cables can cause fires when they come near water. To prevent this and protect your workers, use cord covers to keep your floors safe and clear.
Strains and Sprains
Neck, back, and shoulder strains are all risks that kitchen staff face in their daily work. Lifting heavy items, bending, and slips, trips, and falls are usually the cause of strains.
Repetitive strain injuries like carpel-tunnel syndrome can result from doing the same task. Standing in the same position, as most kitchen staff have to do, can also lead to muscle fatigue and back pains.
Training workers on the right way to lift heavy items helps to reduce strains and sprains. You might even consider automation as a solution. Instead of having your staff carry heavy objects, you can have service carts to do all the grunt work.
Having shifts and mechanical food preparation equipment prevents strains from overworking. To avoid repetitive strains, the staff can also rotate through different tasks every week. Encouraging them to stretch their body, hands, and arms is also useful to your employees.
Burns are inevitable in the kitchen. Workers can get burns from the food they prepare or even the appliances they use. Boiling water, deep fryers, hot oil, stovetops, and pot handles are all dangerous if not handled well.
Stoves must remain off when they’re not in use. The handles of pots and pans must face away from other burners, to keep them from heating up. They shouldn’t stick out, either, where someone passing by might knock into them.
There should also be proper tools for handling hot appliances, such as potholders. Workers should not wear loose clothing either as these may catch fire near open flames.
Cuts and Lacerations
A knife is valuable in the kitchen until someone loses part of a finger, or worse. Sharp is better than dull. If your workers use blunt knives, those are likely to slip and hurt them.
Using a sharp knife can be dangerous too. Without proper storage, one little slip can cause serious harm. Even using the wrong size or type of knife for a job, or one with a loose handle can be risky.
Broken glassware also increases the risk of cuts. Small chips in the glass can also be as dangerous as broken pieces due to the sharp edges formed.
Proper handling of knives and glassware is essential to prevent injuries. Knives must always be sharp, and workers should be aware of recently sharpened knives. Cut-resistant gloves also help protect the staff from cutting themselves.
A designated place for storing knives is vital to ensure that no one gets cut by accident. For example, you can use a knife block, or counter rack to keep blades out of the way.
If any glass breaks, it’s essential to clean up the pieces right away. Avoid having glass in the kitchen if it’s possible, to prevent injuries.
Every industry comes with risks for its workers. Injuries, illnesses, and even deaths can result from accidents in the workplace. Besides endangering lives, these accidents cost a business a lot of money.
Restaurant kitchens can be quite risky. Burns, cuts, and falls are only a few of the dangers the kitchen staff face daily. Employers need to create a safe space to protect their workers and their business.
Simple measures like using the right tools and proper shoes can prevent injuries. Identifying the potential hazards that can occur is only the first step. Having proper safety protocols is the next, and if you do it right, it can be an investment and not an expense.