Owning a restaurant can be very rewarding, but it is hard work. Safety is very important not only for your customers but for your staff as well. The main cause of injury and illness in the hospitality industry is an unsafe work environment. Working in any commercial kitchen is a dangerous job. If you own a restaurant, don’t forget these safety features in your kitchen.
- Proper Attire: Kitchen staff uniforms are often mandatory. They designate rank and keep the chef clean and comfortable during service. However, footwear is often times overlooked. You should encourage all employees to wear heavy-duty, close-toed shoes that are waterproof and slip-resistant.
- Non-Slip Mats: In addition to slip-resistant shoes, you should have non-slip mats and flooring. During service, a kitchen floor can become greasy and wet. Fast-moving workers can potentially slip and fall. Non-slip mats and flooring can provide the necessary traction for workers to continue their fast pace without worrying about slipping.
- Ventilation: Without proper ventilation, a kitchen becomes hot, smoky, and unbearable. Employees who are required to spend a long period of time in unventilated kitchens are at higher risk of heat-related illnesses. Proper ventilation systems are essential for the safety and comfort of your employees.
- Fire Safety Equipment: Commercial kitchens are in constant danger of fires. Having a fire suppression system is essential for keeping your kitchen safe. Training your employees how to use your fire suppression system is just as important as having the system! You should also have an evacuation plan in place and practice regular fire drills.
- Equipment Guards: Having commercial-grade equipment is essential for your kitchen to run quickly and efficiently. Employees may state that safety guards on the equipment get in the way and slow down production, but they are there for a reason! Safety guards are an effective way to prevent amputations and lacerations from poor equipment handling.
- Signage: Slips and falls are often times caused by undisclosed hazards such as a recently cleaned spill. It pays to have adequate signage in the kitchen to draw attention to potential hazards. Signs should be placed in visible areas and in high-contrast colors.
- Occupational Health and Safety Training: While this is important for workers across all industries, there are some hospitality-specific hazards you need to address with your staff. A safety seminar will address issues such as: proper food storage and handling, how to avoid repetitive stress, how to remove or avoid potential hazards in the kitchen, and more.
- Correct Cleaning Techniques: All kitchen staff members should be trained in proper cleaning and food handling techniques. Poor kitchen hygiene is not only dangerous to your customers, but also to the kitchen staff handling the food. Food-borne illnesses is one of the top reasons cited for missed work days.
Whether you own the restaurant, work there, or you’re a paying customer, you want to remain safe and healthy. Flames and fuel in close proximity, hazardous cleaning chemicals, and sharp food prep equipment make a commercial kitchen, by far, the most hazardous environment to work in. Kitchen safety should be a priority to protect your employees and your customers.