Anyone who says a kitchen is not a dangerous space is either lying or painfully oblivious. Think about it: it’s the one area in a house where very sharp things and multiple heat sources are kept, and sometimes even used, at the same time. And if you were to upgrade it to accommodate your home-based food business, you can bet that it’s at least five times more dangerous, what with multiple people running around, barking out dish orders and commands.
Commercial kitchens are notorious for being fast-paced hazard areas. The energy is cutthroat, and with so many people in an enclosed space with heat and open flames, there’s bound to be an injury or two. Injuries in this kind of workplace pose a higher risk to the establishment: service could be slowed down or paused, food can be contaminated, and getting sent to the hospital because of a nasty cut or burn is very likely.
We have come up with a list of four important things to remember when strengthening commercial kitchen safety. Employees getting injured frequently does not make for a good impression, so heed the advice, read on, and stay on the safe side.
- Prioritize food and occupational safety
Whether it’s food safety or occupational safety, ensure that every member of your team understands basic safety. Establish some rules and make sure everybody follows them to a T. Set up safety training sessions for your employees so they know what to do if a grease fire happens or someone slips and falls because of a wayward scallop.
When it comes to food safety, you have to be more particular. Food safety laws and guidelines differ with every state, so get familiar and hold a coaching session with your chefs, line cooks, and staff. Remember that a team is only as strong as its weakest link. As a business owner, you are responsible for setting safety rules.
- Check and update your kitchen equipment
Are appliances in need of replacing? Do knives need sharpening? What about the burners? Are they still safe to use? Do any of the accessories need updating? Commercial kitchen equipment needs monitoring as well. If the machine’s cogs are not well-oiled and maintained, how do you expect the machine to run smoothly? Never scrimp on kitchen essentials, as your employees use them and are exposed to them nearly every day.
You also have to make sure that everyone on the team knows how to use said equipment properly. It also helps to build a relationship with local technicians. If you have a heating problem, you can call someone who deals with furnaces.
Study the instruction manuals, and test the equipment yourself. If it’s not safe for you, the owner, to use, don’t risk your employees by allowing them to use faulty equipment.
- Learn how to prevent and fight fires
Teaching employees about fire safety should be covered in your employee training program. Be aware of your local fire code and make sure your establishment meets its requirements. Have fire extinguishers in visible areas of the kitchen, set up emergency lights by fire exits, and update your smoke alarm systems.
And since commercial kitchens are areas with open flames, make sure that employees keep flammable items in secure locations. Dish towels and linens should be stored away from direct heat because they can catch fire easily, and cooking oils and alcohol must always be kept in a cool, dark place, like a walk-in.
- Remind everyone to be aware of their surroundings
Of course, one cannot fully avoid human error in this kind of setting. With everything so high-energy, adrenaline can get the best of even the most skilled employees, and things like slicers and corkscrews can still be mishandled. Practice self-awareness at all times — this is the best way to avoid accidents. When things get too heated, remind your employees that slowing down is the best way to avoid injury.
Invest in supplies that minimize workplace injuries, like cut-resistant gloves and oven mitts. Have them put in places that are easy to reach because the last thing a home chef needs to do while handling hot food is to have to spend more than two seconds looking for a potholder.
A final word
These four tips will help create a safer and more mindful home kitchen environment. Your employees’ safety will determine how well they work and the profit you make, so invest in it! Take care of your team the way you’d care for customers, and you’ll find that your business will be running smoother than before.