Kitchens are busy places with the rush of preparation and, often, little free space to maneuver. While working, it is important to be alert, aware, and safety-conscious. Never let your guard down - even during the slower times. The following are tips for kitchen safety.
At least one person per shift should be trained in basic first aid. If possible, it is best to train all employees in first aid. Keep enough first aid supplies available and show everyone where they are kept. Also, make sure you have a variety of supplies to treat a number of minor injuries.
Knives with sharp cutting edges and points are inherently dangerous.
- Keep knives sharp. If knives are sharp, they cut easily with little force. This helps prevent knives from slipping off whatever is being cut.
- Use the knife’s edge to cut away from you. Always know where the blade is pointed.
- If you drop a knife, stand back and let it fall. Don’t try to catch it.
- Wash knives carefully. Don’t just toss them in the dishwasher.
- Lay a knife down with the edge pointed down.
Fire and Hot Oil
Fire, hot oil, and hot items are necessary in the kitchen. Awareness of how to work with them is important to kitchen safety.
- Remember the fire is on and the grill, oil, pots, etc. are hot. Never leave them unattended.
- Keep your mind on what you are doing. Make others aware of conditions in the kitchen.
- Never set a glass of water, a drink, or any other liquid where it can spill into a deep fat fryer or into hot oil. Upon contact with hot oil, other liquids can turn into steam and violently spray hot oil in all directions.
- Be careful when you add food to a deep fat fryer or hot oil. If the fat is too hot or if there are pockets of liquid in the food, the hot oil can spray out.
- When lifting a lid off a pan of boiling liquid or hot food, remove the far side of the cover first so that steam does not scald your hand.
- When you take a hot pan or a cover from the fire and put it on a counter, leave a hot pad on the lid or utensil as a warning to others that it is hot.
Glass Utensils on Kitchen Burners
Be careful not to set glass utensils near fires. The utensils have the potential to explode and cause injury.
Food Poisoning, Spoilage, and Temperature Control
Keep foods either hot or cold. Bacteria that cause spoilage and food poisoning grow best when food is lukewarm. Be especially careful with raw poultry, seafood, foods with a base of eggs (like mayonnaise and egg salad), or bread items (like stuffing and puddings).
- Make sure the temperature in your refrigerator is 40 degrees or below. Get a good thermometer for the fridge and keep it in an area where you can see and check it often.
- Keep shrimp, lobster, oysters, and such in the refrigerator on ice. Ideally, put the seafood on top of the ice, and the ice in a colander or other bowl so that the water from the ice can drain.
- As soon as you have served a stuffed bird, such as a turkey, remove any remaining stuffing so the bird can cool faster.
Besides the foodstuffs, there are a lot of chemicals in the kitchen.
- Keep all labels on chemical containers.
- Never mix different types of drain cleaners, bleaches, and strong acids because explosions or dangerous gases can result. Make sure these products are always used strictly according to the directions on the package and that the containers are properly sealed when not in use.
- Have gas appliances checked occasionally by a professional to ensure they are vented and adjusted properly to avoid carbon monoxide. Also, never use charcoal briquettes or similar materials to cook or heat indoors.
- Volatiles such as cleaning fluids, gasoline and kerosene are often flammable and can easily cause fires and explosions. They should never be stored in a kitchen.
- Pesticides such as bug killers, roach poison, and rodent bait should be considered dangerous. If you get them on your hands, wash them off. Always use these chemicals away from uncovered food. Be sure they are not accessible to children or pets. Store carefully, preferably not in the kitchen.
- If you must store cleaning chemicals and other possibly toxic non-food items in the kitchen, always store them on shelves below foodstuffs. If they leak, they won’t get into the food.
Slips and Falls
Water, grease and oils, and food remnants are standard in kitchens and can cause one to slip or fall.
- If you spill something on the floor, clean it up. Keep a mop handy for this purpose.
- Don’t leave boxes, stools, bags of groceries, or anything else out on the floor that could become a tripping hazard.
- Glazed floor tile is beautiful, but dangerous. A thin coating of oil or soapy water can make it very slick. If you have a choice, avoid glazed tile for kitchen floors.
Keep your eyes on the electricity in your kitchen; it can shock you or cause a fire.
- Inspect all electrical cords. Watch for any breaks, cuts, or frayed areas on the cord. Fully replace any damaged or frayed cords.
- Don’t overload circuits by using multiple plugs, extension cords, etc. If you have old wiring, get it checked by a professional for load carrying capacity.
- Don’t use appliances near the sink or near liquids. If you must, have a wall socket near the sink that has a ground fault interrupter-type socket to increase the level of protection.
WCF Insurance Safety Department
NOTICE: This guide may make reference to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations; however the guide is not legal advice as to compliance with OSHA or other safety laws, codes, or regulations. Compliance with OSHA and other safety laws codes or regulations, and maintaining a safe work environment for your employees remains your responsibility. WCF Insurance does not undertake to perform the duty of any person to provide for the health or safety of your employees. WCF Insurance does not warrant that your workplace is safe or healthful, or that it complies with any laws, regulations, codes, or standards.