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Work Health and Safety Blog

There's so much happening in the world of health & safety. Changes in legislation and requirements, changes in best practice, changes in ... you name it. Here's my take on making it simple. Simply Genius WHS - stop guessing... manage with confidence.

Focus on commercial kitchen safety

Maralyn Kastel - Monday, April 07, 2014

The focus of safety in commercial kitchens is often on producing food that is safe for customers to eat. However the kitchen itself has many potential hazards for the workers.  The most common injuries kitchen workers experience are:

  1. Burns
  2. Falls
  3. Amputations
  4. Lacerations
  5. Chemical Exposures

These injuries result in lost productivity, cost and time to re-train workers and cost and time to fix equipment.  Keeping the workers safe should be a priority in any commercial kitchen.

All workers around hot equipment are at risk of suffering severe burns.  Workers need to recognise dangers and take appropriate steps to minimise the likelihood of getting burned.  Causes of burns include hot oil, open flames, steam and hot plates.

Falls are commonly caused by slipping on a spill or tripping on an item stored on the floor.  Lacerations and amputations can occur when using knives or when cleaning kitchen equipment.  Chemical exposures most commonly occur during cleaning procedures.

The top 5 tips for safety in commercial kitchens are:

Wear appropriate clothing and personal protection

  • To prevent burns wear long sleeves and long pants when cooking and be sure to use dry oven mitts.
  • Wear appropriate footwear.  Make sure you have shoes that are closed toe to prevent burns and have traction to prevent falls.
  • When using a chemical wear the appropriate protective equipment such as gloves and safety goggles.

Treat hot areas with respect

  • Open lids away from you to prevent steam burns.
  • Never leave hot oil unattended.
  • Never spill water into hot oil.
  • Maintain clean work surfaces and make sure oil does not build up on cooking surfaces or cooking appliances.
  • Make sure burner flames are set appropriately and pot handles are not over another burner.
  • Don't lean over hot oil or boiling water.
  • Gently raise or lower the fryer basket to avoid splashing.
  • Don't try to carry or strain hot oil.

Handle chemicals appropriately

  • Wipe spills immediately.
  • Know the proper procedures for handling cleaning chemicals and know how to handle accidental exposure such as using an eyewash.
  • Don't mix incompatible chemicals such as bleach and ammonia
  • Label all secondary cleaning bottles with complete chemical information.

Practice proper knife handling

  • Use the appropriate knife for the job and always use a cutting board.
  • Carry knives properly (point down and away from the body).
  • Store knives properly at the back of the counter but within reach.
  • Don't pass a knife to another worker.  Instead put the knife down for them to pick up.
  • Cut away from your body.
  • Consider wearing cut-resistant gloves to protect your fingers.

Safely operate, clean and maintain equipment

  • Always follow manufacturer instructions particularly safety guidelines.
  • Make sure machinery is not plugged in or operating before cleaning it or performing maintenance.
  • Let co-workers know when you will be cleaning or performing maintenance on a piece of equipment so they don't try to operate it.
  • Don't ever remove safety guards from equipment.
  • Be sure to keep hair, clothes. Tie back long hair and don’t wear baggy clothes and jewellery is best left at home.

Commercial kitchens are busy and it may be tempting to cut corners so you can save time.  It is not wise though as there are numerous dangers and injuries cause major delays.  Contact us at The Detail Devils where we can provide Toolbox Talks for your workers on safety in a commercial kitchen.

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