The risk of burns may seem inherent in the restaurant industry, but precautions can be taken to reduce the risk of a burn injury. On average, over the past two years, members of the Colorado Restaurant Safety Group have seen an increase in burn injuries, including severe burns to employees.
Offering safety training, raising awareness of risks and exposures, and implementing safeguards on equipment can reduce burn injuries. However, if an exposure cannot be eliminated, personal protective equipment (PPE) can help protect the employee from exposure by providing a barrier between the employee and the hazard.
The first step toward protecting employees from burn injuries is to determine whether equipment can be upgraded. Newer equipment may have guards in place that older equipment lacks. If purchasing newer equipment is not feasible, consider retrofitting options or process changes where exposures are high.
The next step is to train employees to understand the hazards specific to their jobs. This may be an employee’s first job, or first time working in a restaurant. Unless he or she is trained to recognize the hazards, he or she may not understand the risk.
Burns can occur in many areas of the kitchen, from the fryer to the oven or the grill, and more. Below are a few common restaurant hazards and tips to help protect employees:
Slips in the kitchen play a major role in burn injuries
- Transfer oil only when cool and in a closed container.
- Self-enclosed fryer oil disposal units can significantly reduce burn injuries from transporting oil.
- Lower the basket slowly into the fryer when frying items to reduce splash back of hot oil.
- Do not overfill the fryer with oil past the fill line.
- Do not lean over the fryer.
- Place non-slip mats on the floor or install slip-resistant flooring.
- Wear proper footwear. Lately, slip-resistant shoes come in all styles.
- Ensure lids are secured on pressure cookers.
- Use caution when opening lids, containers and oven doors.
- Use appropriate panhandle covers or protective gloves when handling hot objects.
- Use extreme caution when transferring hot pots – ensure that lids are securely in place and that pots are on a solid and steady surface.
- Use tongs or other tools to work with hot items.
If all safety options have been exhausted and the hazard is still present, make sure to supply employees with the proper personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE can include items such as oven mitts, protective gloves, hot pads, protective arm sleeves, pan handle covers, aprons and slip-resistant shoes.
More training tools and sample safety rules can be found at https://www.pinnacol.com/knowledge-center/food-service-safety.