Work-Related Injuries & Illnesses
Data is for the industry on the rates of workplace injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time workers in food services and drinking places. An injury or illness is considered to be work-related if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition or significantly aggravated a pre-existing condition.
From slips and falls to cuts, burns, sprains and strains, there is a gamut of injuries that can hound the back of the house, causing loss of productivity, unnecessary expenses and a drain on morale. Most are avoidable. To keep kitchens safe, Restaurant Inc offers 10 best practices to implement in all operations.
Non-slip kitchen mats, stainless-steel mesh gloves, fire extinguishers and shortening shuttles may seem like unnecessary expenses; the cash outlay better spent where the return appears to be more immediate. But such safety-first tools can save serious coin. A study conducted by OSHA found that effective health and safety programs can lead to savings of $4 to $6 for every $1 invested. More importantly, however, workplace safety should always be a priority: it improves productivity, helps foster a more-positive work environment and keeps things running smoothly.
Here are 10 easy-to-take actions to improve work practices and on-the-job safety.
- Make sure each employee wears shoes that are appropriate for the job. Gym shoes might be the de facto street uniform for much of the staff but they aren’t always right for the workplace. Shoes should have well-defined treads and slip-resistant soles; ideally they also have good support since workers spend a lot of time on their feet. Those who work in the kitchen should wear shoes that are made of leather or a leather-like material. Cloth is not sufficient to protect from dropped knives or hot oil.
- Cultivate a sense of urgency over spills. A slick of oil or puddle of water can lead to a nasty fall. Convey how important it is to clean them up quickly and properly. Until they are tended to, the spill area should be cordoned off with signage.
- Slicers are sharp and potentially dangerous when the proper usage protocols aren’t followed. Ensure all safety switches are engaged when they should be and provide gloves. And make absolutely certain that anyone using slicers is properly trained.
- Boiling water and bubbling oil cause a lot of burns. Make sure that pots aren’t overfilled and that if they are transferred it is done so with caution. Pan handles should be positioned so they face the back of the stove rather than protrude off the edge.
- Make sure chemicals are used properly. It’s commonly known that bleach and ammonia should not be mixed but the same is true of vinegar and bleach and rubbing alcohol and bleach. Combined, any of these can create toxic vapors, chemical burns or even lead to an explosive mix.
- Kitchen fires can quickly get out of hand. Make sure grease traps are cleaned as per the scheduled maintenance. Fire extinguishers should always be in working order and also be appropriately matched to the type of fire. Grease fires require different chemicals than do electrical or trash fires.
- Have first-aid kits in easily accessible areas. Make sure they are replenished as items are used and that the instructions are multi-lingual.
- Keep aisles and pathways clear. It’s all too easy to leave a recent delivery sitting in an inopportune place where unsuspecting workers might trip over it.
- Properly sharpened knives are less likely to cause injuries than are those that have become dull. Maintain them on a regular schedule.
- Foster a culture where safety truly is a priority. Train, coach and encourage team members to be cautious, mindful and proctors of a safe working environment.