When you think about jobs that have a high instance of workplace injuries, you may think of obviously dangerous or high-risk professions, such as construction. However, accidents can occur in any work environment--and even seemingly safe jobs can lead to injury.
One work environment that's commonly overlooked when discussing workplace injuries is restaurants. However, on-the-job injuries at restaurants are surprisingly common--and some of them can be quite serious. In today's post, we examine causes of and solutions to one of the most common safety concerns in the restaurant industry.
Food service is a fast-paced environment with lots of moving parts. Cooks, sous chefs, dishwashers, bussers, runners and wait staff all work collectively to deliver food to customers in a timely manner. In such a workspace, there are many opportunities for accidents. Slip-and-falls on wet kitchen floors are common. Mishaps while handling hot food on the stove or deep fat fryer can lead to serious burns. "Chef's foot" is a painful ailment suffered by many kitchen workers who are on their feet for long hours each day. However, one of the most common injuries suffered in this industry results from improper knife use.
According to the 2017 Restaurant Loss Cost Trends Report, cuts, punctures and scrapes make up nearly one quarter of all workers' compensation claims in restaurants. Knife accidents have risen in frequency in recent years, as restaurants adjust to consumer demands. The growing popularity of farm-to-table and ethnic cuisine has led to an increased amount of slicing and dicing of fresh produce in kitchens. In addition, the trend toward restaurant delivery services has improved business and created a higher production demand in many restaurants. Kitchen staff are working faster and often in tighter quarters with increased workers. All of these factors improve the likelihood of an accident.
Best knife practices
All restaurant staff who handle knives in any capacity should be trained to:
- Wear cut gloves anytime they cut anything,
- Safely wash knives and
- Safely store knives that aren't being used.
Restaurant managers should also regularly inspect knives to ensure they are sharp, as many knife injuries result from dull knives. Training restaurant staff in proper knife safety is a smart business decision for any restaurant manager--as it can lower injuries and workers' compensation claims.