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As a workplace, commercial kitchens are fraught with all kinds of dangers ranging from fire and burns to cuts by knives and slicers, to fatal appliance malfunctions. We bring you important tips on safety and accident prevention, and safe clothing and first aid.

Cutting It Safe

  • Choose the correct knife for different applications.
  • Small knives are always difficult to hold, so they could cause a cut.
  • Big knives can slip out of your grip and cut you too.
  • Limit knives to only cutting food.
  • Your knives should always be sharp – dull blades could cause you injuries.
  • All cutting should be done on a cutting board, strictly.
  • Always direct the cutting motion away from your body.
  • Your knives should always be sheathed in a knife rack or block, never in a loose drawer.
  • Never leave a knife in a sink clogged with soapy water, you might forget its there and end up cutting hand.
  • Always position knives down and away from counter edges to ensure they don't fall
  • Never try to catch a falling knife, let it go.
  • Always hold the knife with point down and never point it to someone while passing it on.

Slicing It Fine

  • Remove the machine guard only while cleaning the slicer.
  • Before cleaning ensure the slicer is unplugged and turned off, also the blade adjustment should be set to Zero.
  • Always check the machine guard.
  • Always keep the blade locked when not using the slicer.

When you're slicing:

  • Focus your attention only on what you are doing.
  • Keep the meat properly secured.
  • To push the food into place, always use tampers or pushers, never your hands.
  • Don't ever reach across the blade.
  • Always ensure the slicer is in a stable position on the kitchen slab.
  • The work area should always be uncluttered and kept clean.

Operating Electric Appliances

  • Ensure the power cord is not frayed and not near water.
  • Check power cords of all electrical kitchen appliances.
  • Be careful around any appliances with moving blade, especially blenders.
  • Electrical issues include; worn electrical cords and faulty wiring equipment, damaged outlets or connectors and improperly used or damaged extension cords.
  • Ensure you know how to shut the power off in case of an emergency.
  • Always keep all portable or tabletop appliances safely secured at their workstation.

Don't fry in your own Fat

  • Always pour the oil only up to fill line.
  • Ensure the oil is cooled down before cleaning a fryer or its vent filters.
  • Always dip the baskets in gradually and carefully
  • Always use highly refines oil.
  • Know your cooking temperatures, because vegetable oil burns hotter than animal fat.
  • Never reach across over hot oil.
  • The most frequent cause of severe burn injuries is of lifting a pan of burning grease.
  • Never splash water at a fryer.
  • A major burn hazard in commercial kitchens is congested spaces wherein people carry hot food and oil. Guard against elbow jostling around you by letting others know you are moving a hot pan.
  • Serious burn hazards include; naked flames, hotplates, gas burners, and hot ovens.
  • To avoid chemical burns, always wear safety gloves to protect your hands when using chemical detergents.

Scalds and Burns

  • Other liquids like steam and hot water can also burn you severely.
  • Some hot liquids that can burn you include; coffee, tea, soups, sauces, hot dishwater.
  • Always lift any lid off a pot or pan sideways, and use the lid as a shield.
  • Steam can also damage your eyes severely.
  • Never drop solid food into boiling water.
  • Guard against getting burned by touching hot surfaces like pot handles, bake ware, range tops, stoves, heating unites, hot plates, hot food.
  • Always point pot handles toward the stove.
  • Ensure the ovens and range tops cool off before cleaning them.
  • Handle hot food only with pakkads, tongs, turners, turners, kitchen forks, etc.
  • Guard against getting scalded by dishwasher and steam coming out of an oven.
  • Never overfill hot liquid pots, they may splash and burn you.

Preventing Kitchen Fires

  • Always ensure electrical cords are kept away from heat.
  • Never overload sockets with too many appliances.
  • Always keep cleaning chemicals away from fire or heat.
  • Never keep flammables like oven mitts or towels near an open flame or heat.
  • Keep regular track of the food when it's cooking, never leave it unattended.
  • Know your cooking temperatures for various foods and frying mediums.
  • Never overheat the oil. The 3 danger points for hot oil are; the smoke point (oil begins to discolor), flash point (wisps of flame), and fire point.
  • Ensure area around the fryer is always kept clean.
  • Always keep the floor dry and clean.
  • Ensure there are no buildups in vents and grease traps, they could cause a fire.
  • Always clean all the way around a range top.
  • In case of oil flaming up in a pan; never move the pan, always keep metal lids handy to suffocate small grease fires, and never throw water onto a fire.
  • Always know the locations of fire extinguishers, they should be placed conveniently.
  • Make sure you know how to operate the extinguishers.
  • If the fire gets out of control: call 101 and raise the alarm, then stay low or get out.

Protective Wear

  • Never wear loose clothes and jewelry that hangs.
  • Always ensure your long hair is tied back.
  • Use resistant gloves to protect while cutting or slicing.
  • Aprons will always shield you from hot liquids.
  • Always use a pot holder and oven mitts to handle hot cookware and putting things in and out of the oven.
  • To protect your forearms always use extra-long mitts.
  • Always ensure oven mitts, towels or potholders are dry, if they are wet they will conduct heat and cause severe stem burns.

In case of Burns

  • Move far from whatever caused the burn.
  • In case of flaming clothes, stop, drop and roll.
  • Immediately remove smoldering clothing. In case it sticks into the burned area, cut around the clothing leaving the burn intact.
  • Remove jewelry immediately.
  • Let cold running water run over the burn for least 5 to 10 minutes, if an ambulance is expected keep going till it arrives.
  • If a blister has formed, don't puncture it.
  • Protect the burn with a dry, sterile, covering such as gauze bandages or a clean cloth.
  • Never apply any ointment, oil or spray on the burn area, especially grease or butter.
  • In case of a serious burn immediately seek medical attention or call emergency services.
  • If the burn victim suffers from dizziness, confusion, weakness, fever or chills, shivering or cold sweats, please arrange for emergency care immediately.

By Jude Michael Raj
HSE Specialist/Trainer

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