Safety in the Kitchen


Restaurants and industrial kitchens are fraught with potential for accidents. To keep your employees safe, consider each of the possible hazards and identify ways to safeguard your employees.

Work-related burns are one of the leading causes of occupational injuries in the restaurant industry.

One of the most common injuries are scald burns, which is when the skin comes in contact with hot liquid or steam. Scalds from water are very frequent in the restaurant industry and can cause third degree burns. However, scalds from hot oil are generally more severe than those from water. This is because oil heats to higher temperatures, and oil is thicker so it may remain on the skin for a longer period of time. With the constant growing of the food service industry, keeping employees safe in the kitchen has become one of the highest priorities for restaurants owners. Another serious work-related injury in restaurants is slip and falls. Many serious burns occur when employees slip and reach to steady themselves. This action often can knock hot liquids off of counters and stove tops on to the worker. Another instance could occur if an employee is carrying full containers of hot liquids.

Preventing Slips & Falls

Safeguard against slippery floors by keeping floors clean and uncluttered and, where necessary, treating floors with slip-resistant coatings or chemical treatments. Choose floor cleaning chemicals with good grease-removal and slip-resistance properties. Establish a floor cleaning schedule. When spills occur, clean them up immediately and post "caution" or "wet floor" signs until the floor is dry. Ice machines can also create fall hazards because of the large volume of water involved. Select an ice scoop with a size and shape that minimizes spills. Place rubber or fabric-faced mats in front of the ice machine unless they introduce an additional tripping hazard. Make sure that all ice machines and freezer doors seal properly to prevent water from leaking or freezing on the floor.

Encourage professional language when employees are moving through crowded areas. Phrases such as "behind you," "hot," "and "corner" help prevent collisions and falls. Employees should never carry large loads that obstruct their vision.

Equipment & Attire

Many accidents may be prevented by using proper equipment and attire in the Kitchen. Make sure all kitchen workers have:

  • Long sleeves to reduce burns
  • Closed toe, skid-resistant shoes to reduce falls and injuries from hot liquids
  • Heavy pans for increased stability and fewer spills

Sharp knives

Knife Handling - Take time to train new employees on proper knife handling. Keep your knives sharp, handles secure and store with the blades covered. Only allow trained employees to operate electric slicers. All slicing machine guards should be kept in place and in good working condition.

Moving Heavy Loads

It is common for foodservice employees to need to move loads of up to 50 lbs. Employees should know how to safely lift heavy loads in order to reduce potential back injuries. Train employees to lift with their legs, take small steps, and change direction by moving their feet, not twisting, when handling heavy items. Use a cart or dolly to lift extra heavy loads.

Aisles should be wide enough for employees to lift and carry cases without hitting shelves. When possible, store heavy loads at waist height. Load trays with the heaviest items in the center.

Fire Prevention

Follow these housekeeping rules to help prevent kitchen fires:

  • Never leave dish rags or aprons near a hot surface.
  • Never leave stoves or other equipment unattended when in use.
  • Clean range hoods and stoves on schedule to help reduce build-up.
  • Don't overload electrical outlets.
  • Don't force three-pronged cords into two-prong outlets.
  • Don't use equipment with a frayed cord or bent prongs.
  • Don't use equipment that smokes, sparks or otherwise arouses suspicion.
  • Employees should know the building evacuation plan, what the fire alarm sounds like, how to turn on the fire alarm, where to find a fire extinguisher, and how to use it.

Hazard Communication

Restaurants need to pay attention to the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration's (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard. This rule requires employers who have any potentially-hazardous chemical in the workplace, such as cleaning solvents or pesticides, to provide information about these chemicals to employees through labels on containers, material safety data sheets (a manufacturer-provided data sheet), and training programs.

Cleaning chemicals should be stored in a separate area away from food and heat sources, in their original container and with a tight lid. Employees should be taught to:

  • Never mix chemicals.
  • Use chemicals only in well ventilated areas.
  • Follow label directions when disposing of chemical containers.
  • Wash hands after using or touching any chemical or equipment used with a chemical.

Because we do HACCP and FMIS programs, we are professionals in food safety. With our 40 years of being in workplace safety, we are experts in identifying where your business is at risk. For a free risk assessment (up to two hours in your location), give us a call and mention code Fall2015 promo.

ZEE Medical Reading’s Professional Services Group has the talent and the experience to help you plan for your future. For more information on our capabilities, and where we might fit into your organization, call 800-355-8267 or email us today.