The food services industry is a major source of annual accidents in the US.
Workers in the special food services industry spend far more time away from work related to injuries than other food service workers. In 2019, their rate of injury that caused time away from work was 77.9% higher than other food service workers.
Commercial kitchens are busy places with lots of activity going on and work processes are far speedier than that of other kinds of kitchens. This can lead to a whole host of injuries related to slips and falls, cuts and burns and even fires and other events that are related to malfunctioning kitchen devices. Worker training is essential to the prevention of commercial kitchen injuries, and kitchen workflow and design can have a major impact on overall kitchen safety, especially during busy hours.
If you want to learn more about accidents in commercial kitchens, read on!
Common Injuries Sustained by Commercial Kitchen Staff
Kitchen jobs are always associated with a higher instance of injury than other food service jobs. This is because of the volume of work that is going on during any given shift and there are often many people all trying to access the same spaces while moving quickly. While moving speedily is part of kitchen work in many cases, having the stations in the kitchen set up properly and improving overall kitchen management can help reduce accidents related to a lack of attention or pressure to complete tasks too quickly for safety to be observed correctly.
The most common injuries are cuts and burns, but slips and falls and other soft tissue related injuries can also occur in a commercial kitchen.
Cuts and Lacerations 22%
Slips and Falls 20%
Sprains and strains 15%
Burns and scalds 13%
There are other kinds of injuries that occur, but these are the most common ones that are experienced annually in commercial kitchens. While these do not meet the industry standard to be considered “severe” injuries, they are still connected with a loss of pay, time away from work and worker’s compensation losses.
Severe Injuries That can Affect Commercial Kitchen Staff
These injuries are often related to something like a kitchen fire or an explosion, or they might be the result of an accident involving hot oil that has spilled or splattered onto workers. These accidents might be caused by a lack of safety training, people moving too quickly through the kitchen or neglecting items that are being cooked, or even faulty equipment.
There are 11,100 fires in commercial kitchens each year, which is a troubling statistic. Many of these are grease fires, which could have been prevented through proper maintenance of cooking systems as well as proper use of kitchen protocols. While cuts and other injuries that are confined to a single person can lead to a long period away from work, kitchen fires might close down the entire restaurant.
The best prevention related to fires is to make sure that the kitchen staff is trained in fire safety and to have available the proper extinguishers and emergency power off switches to attend to a fire before it can hurt everyone in the kitchen.
The Cost of Commercial Kitchen Injuries
From a worker’s compensation perspective, commercial kitchen accidents are expensive. Even a slight injury can result in total costs of around $10,000. The same study showed that the national average for commercial kitchen injury claims was $155 billion! This is a concerning statistic from the perspective of an employer who runs a commercial kitchen, but it is also worrisome for kitchen workers who might struggle to get benefits due to a heavily-burdened worker’s compensation infrastructure.
Commercial kitchen injuries are often detrimental to workers over the long haul as well, because severe injuries such as burns or major accidents involving explosions can lead to permanent disability and a reduced chance of finding a career that can sustain them until retirement. While commercial kitchen safety training is done by most businesses on a regular basis, it is clear that there are too many moving parts for these trainings to be particularly effective at reducing the risks to businesses and workers.
Kitchen Safety Tips and Tricks
While some of these solutions to prevent kitchen injury might seem basic, they are often the cause for incidents that lead to injuries in the workplace. These are the best practices that can be taught to new commercial kitchen staff to help them be aware of their responsibility to a safe kitchen for everyone.
Wear shoes that lace and lace them properly
Avoid smooth-soled shoes
Wear fabrics that are not porous and will not absorb spills
Make sure to avoid highly flammable clothing items
Clean spills immediately
Remove clutter from work areas
Do not run in the cooking area
Keep cooking oil off the floor and out of walkways.
Communicate before moving through another worker’s space
Cutting stations should not be in walkways or near high-traffic areas
Wet floors should be indicated with signs
Make sure drains are clean and are not causing standing water
Add non-slip matting in all high-traffic areas
Make sure that someone is in charge of kitchen safety on each shift
Commercial Kitchen Injuries Can be Reduced with Careful Management and Training
Like many occupations that involve daily risk, commercial kitchens can reduce their overall incidence of accidents if they take the time to train employees properly and to utilize proper management protocols. There is no way to completely eliminate the risks of working in a commercial kitchen but the chances of severe injury or kitchen fires and explosions can be reduced greatly through training and kitchen workflow assessment.
Being able to create a safe commercial kitchen workspace is an essential part of owning a restaurant. From saved dollars in worker’s compensation claims, to increased employee satisfaction, commercial kitchen safety is an essential part of running a restaurant.
There is no safety shortcut that will replace proper training and proper management in your commercial kitchen.