Hand Safety and Injury Prevention for the Restaurant Industry

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Dr. John E. Aoki, M.D. CHCQM, FABQAURP Chief Medical Officer

Did you know that hand injuries are the #2 type of occupational injury in the restaurant business? Just behind falls and slips. Hand injuries are estimated to cost the restaurant industry about $300 million in workers compensation and missed days of work each year.

The most common causes of hand injuries are from misuse of kitchen tools. Cuts and lacerations from knives, box cutters, and slicers, and mishandling broken glass. Burns from hot oil or grease, boiling water, and hot cooking equipment.

Restaurant employees should practice hand safety regularly and should be trained to in the proper use of tools and equipment, and in safe work practices.

Preventing Injuries:

Training employees on the proper safety procedures is important in reducing the risk of worksite injuries.  Restaurant employees should be trained in the following areas:

  • Proper handling, washing, and storage procedures of knives and other sharp objects. Tools should be kept in a sheath or protective case or secure safety guards when possible.
  •  Using the proper tool for the task at hand.
  •  Keeping knives and other kitchen tools in good condition. When wear becomes evident, tools should be replaced.
  • Use gloves when cutting, or with other appropriate tasks, to reduce the exposure to potential injury.
  • When using cutting tools, always keep the blade pointed down, with the cutting edge angled slightly away from the body.
  • Make sure cutting surfaces are secure before use.
  • Always turn off/unplug devices before you clean or adjust them. When plugging equipment back in, be sure the power is set to ‘OFF’ before proceeding
  • Follow safety guidelines for handling cleaning chemicals that may cause burns.
  • Filter oil at the start of each day before using deep fryers. Use a filtration suit when draining/filtering oil that provides full body protection from spills.

Proper knowledge of safety protocols and handling instructions is an employee’s first line of defense against injury. If you find you need more information on the proper use of equipment at your workplace, talk to your manager or supervisor so they can provide you with the training you need to stay safe at work.

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Source: Traveler’s Restaurant Guide to Hand Injury Prevention & LifeWorks.com

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