There are plenty of jobs that come with occupational risks, and anytime you work in a kitchen, you may be someone who faces a higher level of workplace danger than some other positions.
In our article today, we take a closer look at the risks associated with working in commercial kitchens in the hope it will increase your awareness of the risks and improve kitchen safety.
Burns are among the most common injuries you may face if you work in a kitchen. Sometimes, these accidents are so common that restaurant employees view them as no big deal and par for the course, but that’s not always the case.
In some cases, burns necessitate immediate medical attention.
If you get a burn from cooking or grilling and you don’t treat it correctly, you can make it worse, and it ups your risks of developing an infection and scarring.
A few things to keep in mind if you get a burn include:
- Remove jewelry or clothes near the burn and put it in cool water for around 15 to 20 minutes.
- Avoid putting ice on a burn because it can cause more tissue damage by slowing blood movement to the area.
- Clean your burn with soap and water and cover it with nonstick gauze. The most important thing you can do to protect yourself from infection is covering your burn as quickly as you’re able. While preventing infection is important, you should avoid over-the-counter antibiotic creams because they can actually cause you to become resistant to antibiotics.
When do you need medical help for a burn?
Anytime a burn is larger than three inches in diameter, or in a sensitive part of the body, you may need medical attention. Additionally, if the burn becomes infected or seems to, seek medical advice.
Slips and Falls
The risk of slip-and-fall accidents is fairly high in most types of businesses, but in kitchens, this risk can go up substantially.
Slip-and-fall accidents are commonplace in restaurants because of wet floors and spills, as well as people moving around quickly and without necessarily paying attention.
Clutter on kitchen floors can also contribute to these accidents.
If you run a restaurant kitchen, make sure non-skid mats are well-placed and that the kitchen floors don’t have any clutter. Some restaurant operators will also put mirrors on blind corners to reduce the likelihood of employees running into one another. Follow the necessary safety tips.
Foodborne illnesses aren’t necessarily a safety issue for your employees themselves, but they are something employees need to have an understanding of so that your customers stay safe.
A well-run commercial kitchen is one in which there is the utmost attention to safety as well as cleanliness in all areas of operation.
The hectic nature of commercial kitchens is what leads them to be full of risks, including risks related to foodborne illness.
Employees need to have a dedicated hand-washing station, and they should be trained to always wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with running water and soap.
You should also have a policy in place for your sick workers, so they don’t feel as if they have to come into work. If you work in a kitchen, don’t go in if you’re sick and especially if you’re dealing with vomiting or diarrhea.
If you work in a commercial kitchen or you manage one, know that all workers should wear kitchen gloves, and their gloves should be changed regularly as they move from preparing one type of ingredient to another.
Chemical hazards can actually pose the biggest risk in restaurant kitchens, but they’re more often overlooked.
There is a wide range of chemical hazards in commercial kitchens. For example soaps and detergents can cause skin irritation, while some chemicals can infect skin if it’s broken.
Grill cleaners and drain openers can burn the skin and eyes, and chemicals like chlorine and ammonia can cause skin and eye irritation and damage.
All employees should be issued and wear personal protective equipment including eye gear, gloves, and aprons.
Chlorine and ammonia should never be mixed in the kitchen because they can create a poisonous gas, and all bottles need to be clearly and accurately labeled.
It’s also important to read any labels before using or mixing anything.
OSHA sets standards for the handling and storage of chemicals in the kitchen. For example, appropriate hazard warnings have to be displayed, and there should be emergency procedures outlined.
Fallon Chan is a food and lifestyle photographer and blogger.