Restaurant kitchens are exciting places, where chefs bark out orders and cooks scramble around preparing dishes. All of that excitement and activity also means that restaurant kitchens can be dangerous places. Knives, open flames, wet floors, and people constantly on the go can be a deadly combination. Fortunately, accidents in commercial kitchens can be avoided with due diligence. If you are wondering how to run a successful and productive kitchen, while maintaining employee safety, read further. This article will cover the basics of running a safe kitchen.
Be Careful When Assigning Tasks, And Make Sure Employees Are Properly Trained
Many states have minimum age requirements for certain restaurant tasks, such as working at the grill, or operating a meat slicer or grinder. Obviously, you need to abide by those requirements, for employee safety as well as your own legal protection. Even if someone is old enough to operate a given piece of equipment, you need to make sure that they are mature enough to operate it. You need to also make sure that they are properly trained on the equipment, and that they operate it under supervision at first. This goes for knives, slicers, grinders, grills, and fryers, as well as several other dangerous pieces of restaurant equipment.
Preventing Slips And Falls
Given the wet floors and constant bustle, slips and falls are a major risk in busy restaurant kitchens, and the injuries they cause can be devastating. One good way to avoid slips and falls is to encourage (or even require) employees to wear slip-resistant shoes. These shoes have thick soles and lots of traction, to help employees stay upright on wet floors. Safety mats are also key, as they provide extra traction. At the very least, you should place a mat in locations that tend to get very wet, such as near the dish washing area and in front of the food prep line. There are even mats designed specifically for walk-in freezers. These mats are able to withstand extremely cold temperatures.
Proper Safety Attire Is Also Key
If you are a restaurant owner or manager, you also need to make sure that your kitchen staff wears proper safety attire. These items will vary, depending what task your employees are doing, but they should always be worn when needed. Such items include oven mitts, to be used when handling hot materials; aprons, which prevent burns to the front of the body; and mesh gloves, which prevent an employee from cutting his or her fingers with a knife.
Make Sure All Kitchen Employees Follow Proper Safety Procedures
This seems like an easy task in theory, but it can be very difficult in reality. When the orders start piling up, corners get cut and short cuts get taken. This is the time when employees are most at risk. To be honest, doing things the right (safe) way might take a little extra time, but the risks associated with neglecting to do so are not worth the extra seconds saved. As a manager, it is your job to ensure that proper safety procedures are followed, and that your kitchen is a safe place for all.