3 Critical Restaurant Injuries Every Restaurant Owner Needs to Know

You have worked in restaurants your whole life, and it is time to start your own. You know how to be safe and practice the right precautions, but do you know how to be an effective manager? Do you know how to instruct your line cooks and chefs to practice the correct safety procedures while using equipment throughout the restaurant? Do the prep cooks know how to use a commercial mixer? Do they know how to use a peeler without adding their skin to the mix?

I am one individual that likes to be prepared for the worst, expecting the unexpected and able to structurally react in a chaotic situation. Knowing that 5% of all job injuries happen in a kitchen makes me want to supply this guide to help restaurant owners be a little more aware of the possibilities for injuries not only to minimize injuries but increase overall kitchen performance.

Here is a list of the top 3 restaurant injuries:

1. Slipping, Tripping and Falling

In a hustling kitchen and with comfort some chef’s say they could walk through their kitchen blindfolded they know it so well. Reminding your staff to walk swiftly over jogging is important. You may sound like a hackling parent, but in the end you’re looking out for their best interest. The best precaution to avoid slipping accidents is to instill a procedure after an area has experienced a spill or mopping always put up the caution sign and do a quick shout out to your staff to let them know the area is slippery. This has proven to avoid many potential hazards, as well as increase courtesy and moral for the back of house staff that they are looking out for each other. For tripping or falling, these are usually results of items not being picked up properly or a movement of existing shelving. To avoid these issues get your staff in a habit of identifying hazards on the floor and stopping to pick up the item. It’s that simple, but it starts with you as the owner if your standard is to uphold safety processes, failing to adhere to them becomes the employees fault.

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 2. Burns

Nothing scars and hurts more than a burn. I have several burns on my arms and hands that have scarred my skin, but it has only made me more aware of the potential hazards for others. There are different degrees of burns, but having none is the best option.

The worst burns are steam burns, these ones happen almost instantaneously and there is nothing you can do to avoid them. Once the steam hits your skin the coolness of your skin condenses the steam to water and sticks to you, and you’re burnt. The best process I have established to avoid steam burns has been getting all chefs in a habit of lifting a lid so the handle is closest to them, as if they were holding up a shield. It is never ok to put your face directly over boiling pot to smell the aromas. After the lid has been removed they must wait for the cloud of steam to leave before getting their face near the pot.

Another burn which owners do not anticipate is burns from pepper handling. These burns are always transferred through pepper oils which are released when peppers are sliced or even boiled. A common action is to have an itch from the hotness of the peppers and the chef wipes their face and spreads the oil to their skin and face which immediately begins to burn. The best safety method to instill is to make it mandatory to wear gloves when handling peppers. I use two layers of gloves depending on the heat of the pepper.

The third burn, and most common is heat burns. Primarily these are from touching items from the oven, items from a stove top or even the appliances themselves. Always require that heat resisting items are used to handle all objects exposed to high heats.

3. Knives & Cuts 

It is ironic that the most well-known sharp items in the kitchen are the knives themselves, and they are the cause for the majority of kitchen injuries. Always have a team member that knows how to handle a knife. Have them be responsible for the fast-paced on-demand chopping tasks. Make it very well known that if a knife drops against all instinct do not attempt to catch it. In the attempt to catch it you expose the meat of your hand to the blade of the knife.

Another important precaution to take is to never leave a knife at the bottom of the dishes. All knives whether dirty or clean need to be on the sink edges and NOT in the water. What happens is in a flurry of doing dishes at a rapid pace reaching in blindly through the soapy or sanitized water leads to reaching for blades.

These are the three worst restaurant accidents with the highest frequency which will occur in your business. Please use extreme caution in all areas of a kitchen and above all create healthy quality food for your customers. Remember that procedures, caution and respect start with you as an owner so start everyone on the same foot and provide unyielding safety procedures.

This author of this article is Alisa Carscaden. If you enjoyed this post please follow me on my Twitter @FacePalmLaw. Read here if you are a victim of workplace injury and need a Denver workers compensation attorney.

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