All workplaces, be they great or humble, have their fair share of hazards and dangers that their employees should be aware of when conducting their various duties. Restaurant catering equipment is by no means an exception, and indeed the large amount of sharp, metallic objects, hot pans and open flames may very well make a kitchen more dangerous than most.
As a chef you will experience cuts, burns and other minor injuries, but serious ones can be avoided if you know what to look for. Listed below, for your safety and your convenience, are a list of the more common kitchen hazards you are likely to encounter when using restaurant catering equipment.
1) Wet Floors or Tripping Hazards
As the kitchen works, there are going to be spillages. The dinner rush usually means that chefs are distracted and trying to focus on several hundred different things at once, equipment will be flying here there and everywhere, and inevitably some sauces or parts of a meal are going to wind up on the floor. Oils and fats in particular can be a major problem. Even if they do get cleaned up by enterprising garcons, the result is a floor that will be wet. Always ensure that wet floors have a warning sign erected to alert people of the hazard, and if something is spilled clean it up promptly. Also ensure that the floor is clear of obstructions, such as chairs, stools or trailing cables. If ever you are moving through a kitchen, keep an eye on where you’re going and be careful with your footing. It is not a bad idea to invest in non-slip shoes either.
2) Dangerous Catering Equipment
A kitchen is full of nice, fun objects that can seriously injure -- or even kill -- you if you are not respectful towards them. Always make sure you know what you’re doing when you’re using restaurant catering equipment, and never use something in a way it is not meant to be. So, for example, do not use a filleting knife to cut steak, and do not use a frying pan to make sauces. It may sound obvious to some, but it never hurts to have such facts reiterated.
When using knives, it is helpful to wear tough, cut-resistant gloves to protect the hands, although some chefs may prefer the dexterity provided by keeping them bare. Always make sure staff are aware of the dangers of things such as fiddling with equipment, or letting loose sleeves get caught in machinery. Keep safety manuals in clear view, and post signs related to specific machines (“CAUTION! HOT!” for example).
3) Heavy Lifting
Certain items may need to be moved from occasion, or from time to time you may be asked to shift new produce from the receiving bay to storage. A lot of the time, such equipment or packages will be heavy. Your kitchen catering equipment should contain a safety manual with advice on how to properly move heavy objects, including the national weight limits that an employer can legally ask you to move unaided.
If an object is too heavy or unwieldy to be moved on your own, always ask for help. Always make sure you lift an item correctly as well; never lift with your back bent, always bend the knees and use your legs to push the weight off the floor. Wear abrasive gloves as well, so as to protect the hands, and always make sure you know where you’re going and where the item will be set.
4) Crowded Workspaces
Anyone working in a kitchen knows how crowded and busy it can get, especially during dinner rushes. When such times occur, try to regulate a specific pattern for movement to help prevent collisions and accidents, such as always travelling on the left hand side of a workspace, or always giving people with food or hot pans right of way. Always keep such areas free of clutter.
5) Burns and Cuts
As you work with restaurant catering equipment, you will inevitably run into cuts and burns. You can take steps to avoid such incidents, but they will happen occasionally. The trick is to minimise the damage caused and dealing with the problem immediately.
Prevention includes such tactics as always using oven gloves or heat-proof mitts when handling hot catering equipment, or always ensuring that you cut away from yourself when performing a task like de-scaling fish. If accidents do occur, seek out a first-aid practitioner immediately and follow the necessary steps. You should always ensure that the injured party is given plenty of room.
For further information regarding restaurant catering equipment and other commercial culinary products, please visit the website of Advantage Catering Equipment, or else contact them directly by phoning 01304 827272.