If you work in the kitchen at your healthcare facility, you need to be aware of many safety issues that you must confront each day. One of the more basic safety concerns is the possibility of slips, trips and falls. Common hazards include wet floors that are slippery due to spills, or walking spaces that are cluttered with improperly-stored kitchen equipment and supplies.
Floors must be kept clean, dry and free of clutter. When floors are wet, make sure that there is proper signage in place to warn others. Also, you should wear comfortable shoes with soles that will help reduce the possibility of slipping.
Kitchen equipment use is another safety issue for kitchen staff. Machinery for slicing and cutting can also slice or cut a finger or a hand. Make sure that slicing and cutting equipment have proper safety devices, such as machine guards that will protect your hands and fingers from cutting surfaces, and moving parts that can catch hands, fingers or clothing. Always handle knives and other cutting tools with care and respect. Do not perform cutting operations if you haven’t received training.
The possibilities for getting burned or scalded in a kitchen are many – including exposure to hot pots, steam and hot oils. Protect yourself from burns and scalds by wearing proper clothing, including long-sleeved shirts and blouses. Do not wear shorts or open-toed shoes or sandals.
Make sure you use potholders or properly-insulated gloves when moving or handling pots or when opening up the covers to check on the food.
The risk for fire is ever-present in a kitchen. Take care not to leave aprons or rags close to cooking surfaces or open flame. Be careful when handling oils and don’t let dirt and grease build up.
Another common safety issue among kitchen workers is the potential for injury to the back, shoulders or arms, caused by improper lifting and carrying of heavy loads. Use carts and dollies wherever possible.
Food carts also are a potential source of ergonomic injuries. Make sure that the food carts have wheels that are in good working order, have wheel locks and are properly designed for the floor surfaces of your facility. Push, don’t pull, food carts.
Always remember to make safety part of the recipe in a healthcare facility’s kitchen. You cannot afford to leave out any ingredients.