Commercial kitchens are busy and demanding environments, where food is prepared and cooked for customers. However, they can also be dangerous places, where accidents and injuries can happen if safety rules are not followed. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), there were 1,300 reported injuries in the catering industry in 2019/20. Some of the most common hazards in commercial kitchens include:
Burns and scalds from hot surfaces, liquids, and steam
Cuts and lacerations from knives, slicers, and other sharp objects
Slips and trips from wet or greasy floors, loose cables, and uneven surfaces
Falls from ladders, stools, or chairs
Electric shocks from faulty or damaged equipment
Fire from flammable materials, gas leaks, or faulty wiring
Food poisoning from contaminated or spoiled food
To prevent these risks and ensure a safe and hygienic working environment, here are 10 safety rules that every commercial kitchen should follow.
Handwashing is one of the most important food hygiene rules in the kitchen. It helps to prevent the spread of bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens that can cause food poisoning.
It is important to wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food, especially raw meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. You should also wash your hands after using the toilet, touching your face, hair, or nose, coughing or sneezing, handling waste, or touching anything dirty.
You should also wear protective equipment such as oven mitts, goggles, masks, or earplugs when necessary. You should avoid wearing jewellery, watches, nail polish, or perfume that could contaminate food or get caught in equipment.
Keep your work area clean and tidy
Clean and disinfect your work area before and after preparing food. This includes wiping down surfaces, utensils, equipment, and cutting boards with hot water and detergent or sanitiser. You should also sweep and mop the floor regularly to remove any spills, grease, or debris that could cause slips or trips.
Store food properly in labelled containers in the fridge or freezer to prevent spoilage or cross-contamination. You should also dispose of waste in closed bins that are emptied regularly.
Use knives and other sharp objects safely
Knives are one of the most common causes of cuts and lacerations in commercial kitchens. You should use knives that are sharp, well-maintained, and suitable for the task.
It is recommended to hold the knife firmly with a secure grip and cut away from your body on a stable cutting board. Never leave knives unattended on the counter or in the sink. You should also use guards, gloves, or other safety devices when using slicers, graters, peelers, or other sharp objects.
Handle hot liquids and steam with care
Burns and scalds are another common injury in commercial kitchens. You should handle hot liquids and steam with care by using oven mitts, pot holders, or tongs. Never fill pots or pans too full or carry them over long distances.
You should also use lids or covers to prevent splashes or spills. Avoid opening oven doors or microwave ovens too quickly to avoid steam burns. Keep flammable materials away from heat sources such as stoves or fryers.
Follow electrical safety rules in a commercial kitchen
Electric shocks can cause serious injuries or even death in commercial kitchens. You should follow electrical safety rules by using equipment that is tested and certified by a qualified electrician.
Check for any signs of damage or wear on cords, plugs, sockets, switches, or appliances. You should never overload sockets or extension cords or use them near water sources. Also turn off and unplug equipment when not in use or before cleaning.
Fire is one of the most devastating hazards in commercial kitchens. You should prevent fire hazards by keeping flammable materials such as paper towels, oil, or alcohol away from heat sources such as stoves, fryers, or ovens.
You should also keep fire extinguishers, blankets, and alarms in accessible locations and know how to use them in case of emergency. Have a fire escape plan and practice it regularly with your staff and avoid smoking or using candles in the kitchen.
Avoid slips and trips
Slips and trips are one of the most common causes of falls and injuries in commercial kitchens. Avoid slips and trips by keeping the floor clean, dry, and free of grease, water, food, or other obstacles.
You can also use mats, rugs, or signs to mark wet or slippery areas. You can also wear slip-resistant shoes and avoid running or rushing in the kitchen. Report any loose cables, tiles, or floorboards that could cause tripping hazards.
Lift and carry heavy objects safely
Lifting and carrying heavy objects can cause back pain, muscle strain, or hernia in commercial kitchens. You should lift and carry heavy objects safely by using proper techniques and equipment; bend your knees and keep your back straight when lifting objects from the floor. You should also hold the object close to your body and avoid twisting or turning while carrying it.
Using carts, trolleys, or other aids to move heavy objects over long distances are also beneficial. Ask for help or use a team lift when the object is too heavy or bulky for one person.
Report and treat any injuries or illnesses
If you or someone else gets injured or ill in the commercial kitchen, you should report and treat it as soon as possible. Stop working and seek medical attention if the injury or illness is serious or requires professional care.
You should also inform your supervisor or manager and fill out an accident report form or book. Follow any instructions from your doctor or employer regarding rest, recovery, or return to work.
These are some of the safety rules that every commercial kitchen should follow to ensure a safe and hygienic working environment. By following these rules, you can prevent accidents and injuries, protect your health and well-being, and provide quality food and service to your customers.