With the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, many restaurants and commercial kitchens have closed or have greatly reduced staff.  However, kitchen workplace accidents are still happening.

The key to protecting kitchen workers is training and safe equipment.  While it is to a restaurant/kitchen owner’s benefit to reduce workplace accidents so as to keep workers’ compensation premiums low, not all owners do what is in their best interests.

According to Chron.com, when restaurant or kitchen owners take the correct measures to keep their employees healthy, they also have less need to fill empty shift positions in an environment already notorious for high staff turnover.

Train Workers on Food Processing Equipment

Processing machinery with rapidly spinning blades and grinding components could easily remove a fingertip or worse. Managers should restrict the use of this equipment to workers who have thorough training on how to operate, troubleshoot and clean the equipment safely.  Additionally, posting clear instructions and diagrams can help overcome potential reading or language barriers.

Provide Protective Gear

Owners should either provide or implement a program for restaurant/kitchen employees to purchase affordable, safe kitchen-wear like long-sleeved chef coats and closed-toe shoes with nonskid soles. Eye protection can also protect against hot grease and chemical splashes. Making sure that the correct tools are plentiful and accessible can help prevent an employee from risky actions, like reaching into a hot pan without tongs.

Repair Safety Hazards

Cluttered passageways, unsafe flooring and poor storage fixtures all contribute to injuries caused by falling objects and stumbling and slipping. Kitchen staff should be in the habit of immediately cleaning spills and routinely keeping aisles and halls clear of debris, containers and other equipment. Owners should repair loose or uneven flooring and install rubber mats that provide more traction for workers moving quickly on slick surfaces.

According to Restaurant Technologies, about 35% of common commercial kitchen injuries result from slips, falls or strains from poor heavy object handling. Providing proper shelving can eliminate hazards like unstable stacks of cartons, and sturdy stepladders help prevent employees from soft-tissue damage or sprains by reaching awkwardly.