The most common accident in restaurant kitchens are cuts – specifically, finger cuts. This can be costly for an employer due to medical expenses, employee time off of work, and increased workers compensation premiums. Reduce the likelihood of finger cuts occurring at your restaurant by implementing a plan to address the hazard.
General Safety Tips for Knives and Meat Slicers
As an employer, the responsibility falls on your shoulders to provide employees with the knowledge to help them stay safe when working with knives and meat slicers. Here are a few basics.
- There are restrictions on the equipment that employees under the age of 18 can operate. As an employer, become familiar with your state’s minor employment laws.
- Employees should be trained by a knowledgeable staff member. This includes instructions on how to use, clean, and store the equipment.
- Equipment training should adhere to the instructions provided by the product manufacturer.
- Inform employees that they should ask for assistance if they are ever unclear on how to properly use the equipment.
- Employees should have access to appropriate personal protective equipment to be worn while working the equipment. They should understand why it is important and how to properly wear it.
- If equipment is designed for use with a safe guard, it should be used accordingly.
Preventing Finger Cuts
To dive deeper into preventing finger cuts, there are more specific guidelines to implement in your kitchen.
- Enforce proper knife storage. Have a specific place for storing knives, like a magnetic wall rack, knife block, or a drawer for knives only with the knife blades covered.
- Use a knife for its intended purpose.
- Keep knives sharp. A dull blade has a tendency to slip.
- Know the proper way to walk with a knife. Carry the knife with the blade away from the body and the tip pointing down.
- Use personal protective equipment, like cut-resistant gloves or stainless steel mesh gloves.
- If you’re using a cutting board, it should be secured. Do not use the palm of your hand as a cutting board.
- Slice away from the body, keeping fingers away from the blade.
- Curl fingers under when chopping. When mincing, keep the tip of the knife on the cutting board.
- If it’s necessary to pass the knife to another employee, place it down on the counter and let the other employee pick it up.
- Avoid talking to others while cutting. This can be a distraction.
- When you are done working with the knife, wash it immediately. Place it in the dishwasher in a designated spot or wash it in the sink, dry it, and store it properly. Do not leave the knife in a sink filled with water.
Knowledge, training and practical procedures can be a powerful tool; you owe it to your business and the safety of your employees to take advantage of safe slicing!