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All you have to do is take a peek into a busy restaurant kitchen to know it can be a dangerous place. There are large knives chopping vegetables, pans flying through the air, and hot open flames and scalding surfaces. While it may be all in a day’s work for those who wear the chef’s hat, there are steps restaurants can take to make the kitchen a safer environment. We’ve compiled a list of the 5 most common injuries in the kitchen and how to prevent them from happening.
Cuts From Kitchen Equipment
We’ve all done it at one point or another: you’re chopping a bunch of spinach or parsley and the knife slices right into your hand. Most seasoned chefs have suffered a scrape or two, but in some cases there have been serious lacerations or even amputated fingers. Let’s face it, knives and other sharp objects like graters and even bladed food processors can be extremely dangerous. It’s important that kitchen staff are trained to use knives properly and also make sure they return them to their proper place when they are done using them. Never leave a knife lying around on a countertop or in a pan where it could fall on someone’s foot; make sure all knives and sharp cooking utensils are stored in safe spots.
Burns From Kitchen Appliances
Working around those flaming hot grills and stoves can pose a serious hazard. From a slight touch of a hot panhandle to serious burns from frying oil or scalding water, chefs weather all types of heat-related injuries. Make sure your chefs and line cooks keep back at a safe distance from hot frying pans or pots of boiling water. When in doubt, always prioritize using caution and care above all else. You know what they say—an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Safety should always come first, and taking just a little bit of extra time and care to do things properly means many accidents are avoided.
Aches and Pains
Along with hairdressers, sales associates, and any other career where you spend a lot of time on your feet, chefs are susceptible to developing back pain and back injuries. Standing in one place for 8+ hour shifts and leaning over to lift pots and pans puts a strain on your back and spine, and can lead to issues in the long-term like arthritis. The best way to mitigate this is to avoid standing in one place for too long. Start moving around the kitchen, it’s a surefire way to loosen up your back and leg muscles. You can even take periodic breaks to do mini stretches to help ease the strain.
Hallux Rigidus aka Chef’s Foot
Much like standing too long puts a strain on your back, it also affects your feet. Hallux rigidus is the technical term for arthritis of the joint in your big toe, and it affects many people who are on their feet for their jobs, like chefs. It causes pain and stiffness in the joint, and as the disorder progresses, it can even become difficult to walk. Wearing comfortable shoes that provide adequate space for your toes can help prevent hallux rigidus.
Tennis Elbow From The Kitchen
Tennis elbow tends to affect people who perform activities that put repetitive strain on their elbow—like carpenters or baseball pitchers, for instance. There are a high number of chefs developing tennis elbow, also known as tendonitis, due to hours of grueling chopping, slicing, and dicing. Resting the area after periods of intense use can help your elbow recover. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen can also ease swelling and pain.
Consult with a Restaurant Professional
Being a chef can be a dangerous but highly rewarding job. Learn more about injuries and accidents on the job, and protect yourself and your employees with restaurant insurance. Restaurant Programs of America is a full-service insurance agency focused exclusively on the restaurant industry. Please contact us at 866-577-7007 for more information.