Food Service Accidents
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Module 23: Preventing and Treating Accidents in Food Service Operations

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Food Service Accidents

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Food Service Accidents

From cuts and burns to slips and falls, restaurants can present numerous dangers to an often inexperienced workforce.

In fact, one in 20 on-the-job injuries and illnesses worldwide, occur at eating and drinking establishments.

The main injuries hospitality staff incur can include:

Cuts - Restaurant staff members can often incur cuts or puncture wounds due to frequent contact with knives
Burns - From boiling water to fryers and hot stovetops, heat and water burns also create another potential hazard for restaurant workers
Sprains and Strains - Hard-to-reach items can cause worker injury due to overreaching or trips. Workers can also suffer from strains due to improper lifting
Eye Injury - Splashes from grease or sanitizing chemicals frequently used in food service environments can result in injury to the eye
Other Factors - Equipment accidents, stairways and staff clothing can also be the cause of injuries

Cuts are constant hazards for food preparation employees. Employees must be alert when using knives, slicers, or similar equipment.

Dull knives cause more problems than sharp knives because dull knives require employees to exert more pressure, and slippage problems are more likely to occur.

There are many common guidelines for using knives, the most important are listed below:

Always place food to be cut, on a table or a cutting board
Cut away from your body, items should be firmly grasped and sliced by cutting downward
Hold the food with your free hand and keep the point of the chopping knife on the block

Cuts can also occur when knives or other sharp tools are washed. For this reason, all sharp tools should be washed separately.

When cleaning a slicer, make sure the blade of the slicer is in the position recommended for cleaning, unplug the unit and refer to the manufacturer's operating and maintenance manual for specific cleaning instructions. When washing or cleaning a knife, do not leave it in a sink or dishwasher where other employees might unknowingly grab it and cut themselves.

Knife Precautions

Discard or repair knives with loose handles

Don't leave knives on the edge of a counter, push them back so they cannot fall

Don't try to catch a falling knife

Never play with knives or use them as substitutes for screwdrivers or can openers

Don't use knives to open cardboard cartons; use the proper container-opening tool

Cut Precautions

Keep knives, cleavers, saws, and other sharp tools in racks or special drawers

Use safety guards and any other safety items provided on equipment

Be careful with grinders

Use caution when operating slicers and other electric cutting tools

When using sharpening steels, be sure there is a finger guard between the handles

Minimizing the use of glass in the kitchen can help prevent cuts. Any broken glass should be cleaned up immediately with a broom and dustpan, not your fingers.

If glass is broken in a dishwasher, drain the dishwasher and pick up the glass with a damp doth. Always place broken glass or china in a separate refuse container. Glass Safety

Handle all glassware with care

Whenever picking up broken glass, wear cut-
resistant gloves

If you drop a glass do not try to catch it in the air.
A glass can break in your hand when you attempt to catch it

Let glass cool down after being cleaned and dried in the dishwasher. Heated glass is susceptible to breaking if exposed to cold liquid

When broken glass is on the floor, use a broom and dust pan to clean up the debris

Many employee accidents in food service operations result in burns of varying degrees. It is important that restaurant employees and managers understand and take steps towards minimizing the dangers.

It is the responsibility of the employer to provide proper equipment, training and safety supplies, it is the employees responsibility to use these in the correct manner.

The following actions can be taken to prevent burns:

Cooking Procedures

Follow recommended procedures when using any cooking equipment
Plan ahead. Always have a place prepared for hot pans, when moving them
Use dry potholders; a wet or damp potholder can cause a steam burn
Don't use pans with loose handles they may break off or rounded bottoms (the pans may tip)
Don't over fill pots, pans, or kettles. Open pots carefully by raising the back of their lids so steam will escape away from you
Stir food carefully with long-handled spoons or paddles; avoid spattering and splashing

General Procedures

Don't reach into hot ovens; use a pot puller or other proper tool
Allow equipment to cool before cleaning it
Know how to put out fires. Know how to use fire extinguishers and other safety equipment
Prohibit horseplay
Be careful when pouring coffee and other hot liquids
Use caution around heat lamps


Next to traffic accidents, trips and falls kill more people than any other kind of accident. Most falls are not from high places but are slips or trips at floor level.

To avoid muscle strains, always have a firm footing before attempting to lift a heavy object. Keep your back straight; do not bend forward or sideways. Bend your knees to pick up low objects and lift with your legs, not your back. Employees should not try to carry too many items at one time or items that are too heavy for them. When carrying a heavy load, ask for help.

Precautions which should be undertaken to prevent falls, may include the following:

Precautions to prevent falls

Keep floors clean, dry and free from hazardous objects at all times

Repair cracked or worn stair treads

Wear properly-fitting shoes with non-slip soles

Walk, don't run, and use caution when going through swinging doors

Use a sturdy stepladder if it is necessary to reach high places

Make sure that entrances and exits are clean and safe

Keep floor mats or other protective devices clean and in good condition

In most commercial kitchens there is always the risk of hot oil, sauces or soup splashes, as well as steam and food particles in the air from the cooking process. Protective eyewear should be available to staff, as it can prevent irritating food substances getting in their eyes while cooking.

Staff should wash their hands frequently as touching the eyes after handling food can transfer substances to the eyes, causing pain and redness. Protective glasses should be worn when using chemicals in the cleaning of equipment, surfaces and floors.
Staff should know the basics of first aid as you can minimize injury if you know how to respond quickly.

Eye Injury Care

Irritating substance in the eye:
wash the eye with tap water or a mild saline solution
Repeatedly blink the eye
Chemical splash in the eye:
Wash the eye out with tap water or a mild saline solution
Seek medical help and advice. Continue to wash the eye with tap water or a mild saline solution

Equipment Accidents

Safety precautions should be used whenever employees work with equipment. Don't take shortcuts when operating potentially hazardous food service equipment; always follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully.

Place the instructions on or near equipment so that employees can refer to them. Train employees how to use, maintain, and clean equipment. New employees should be carefully supervised to ensure that proper procedures are followed. Whenever possible, disconnect equipment from power sources before cleaning.

Maintain Equipment

Properly maintain equipment. Improper maintenance can lead to unsafe working conditions

Conduct regular and detailed equipment inspections with maintenance personnel or representatives from the equipment supply company

Make sure all gas connections conform with applicable regulations

Safety Precautions

Ensure that all electrical equipment conforms to electrical code requirements

Carefully follow the manufacturer's instructions when operating electrical equipment

Always unplug electrical equipment before cleaning it. Never touch metal sockets and electrical equipment when your hands are wet or you are standing on a wet floor

Practice preventive maintenance. A qualified electrician should inspect all electrical equipment on a regular basis

Stairways and Ramps

Make sure all stairways and corridors are adequately lit and the angles of any ramps for employee use are set to provide maximum safety.

If stairs are metal, wood, or marble, make sure that abrasive non slip materials have been been used on the treads, to provide protection against slips and falls. Also make sure that all handrails are clean and securely fastened, if there are wide stairs or steps in the building make sure a center rail has also been provided.

Protective Clothing

Provide employees with good shoes to protect their feet against injury from articles that are dropped or pushed onto them. Make sure footwear has close-cap toes and non slip soles.

Protective eyewear should be worn when using chemicals to clean surfaces, floors and equipment.

Check that employee clothing is free of parts that could get caught in mixers, cutters, grinders, or other dangerous equipment


What types of equipment do you have in your own personal kitchen?

List the different types.

What precautions do you take when using kitchen equipment in
your home?

What precautions do you take when storing and preparing food in your kitchen?


Think of a restaurant that you have visited recently. What safety concerns did you notice, in relation to:

Stairs and ramps
Customer injuries/accidents
Equipment
Restaurant layout

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