Restaurant kitchen safety is about more than following safe food handling practices. It’s also about creating a safe place during the cooking process itself. With several pieces of heavy equipment such as ranges, ovens, deep fryers and steamers going at the the same time, the heat is on. And just like the saying goes, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen”. But if you follow these cooking safety tips for commercial kitchens, you’ll be cooking up a storm without worry.
Cooking Safety Tips for Commercial Kitchens
Don’t Scrimp on the Ventilation
Most pieces of heavy cooking equipment like restaurant ranges and deep fryers need to be kept under the kitchen hood. The microwave oven is one of the few pieces of equipment that doesn’t. The vent hood removes excessive heat and toxic fumes, so always make sure the hoods are on while the kitchen is in use.
A Clean Ventilation System is a Happy One
At the end of the day, the vents in the kitchen hood need to be removed and sent through your commercial dishwasher in order to keep them clean and functioning. Clogged vent hoods will not remove heat or gas fumes from the kitchen.
Check the Fire Suppression System
The fire suppression system is there to save your restaurant and employees in case of fire. From the sprinkler lines to working fire extinguishers, make sure your kitchen is fully equipped with an up-to-date fire suppression system. Train your employees so that they know what to do in case of fire, know how to use a fire extinguisher, and know where any preventative fire equipment is located.
Keep Traffic to a Minimum
A commercial kitchen is a fast-moving place, especially during a rush. If there are too many people in the kitchen, staff can bump into each other, spill food or hot soups which can burn, and cause slip-and-fall hazards. The only people who should be in the kitchen are the staff members who are working in it.
Keep Shirts Tucked In
Shirts that aren’t tucked in and loose clothing overall can get caught in machinery or catch on fire. It’s best to wear proper cooking attire such as chef pants and jackets, or the designated restaurant uniform. Baggy clothes should be highly discouraged.
Keep Your Heat in Check
Turning the burners up on full-blast as soon as a pot is put on the gas range may seem like a good way to cook whatever is in the pot faster, but flames climbing up the side a pot or pan are a fire hazard. Also, if the pot doesn’t cover the burner entirely, turning the gas on full-blast will just waste energy.
Pot Holders & Oven Mitts are Your Friend
Bar towels might seem like an acceptable alternative to oven mitts, especially a pinch. But if they get wet which happens more often than not, the heat will transfer directly to the skin. If you have ever made the mistake of doing this, I bet you haven’t made it since. Pot holders and oven mitts are much safer and will protect employees’ hands from burns. Don’t use bar towels to pull hot food.
Oven & Steamer Doors are Hot!
Any time the door is opened on a combi oven or commercial steamer, some of the heat will escape. If employees aren’t careful, the heat can burn skin and cause some pretty serious pain. This is especially true with steamers, because steam has more heat energy than hot air alone. Always be cautious when opening oven and steamer doors.
Have a Place for Employee Food/Drinks
Employee meals should be stored and eaten in a dedicated break room. Employee drinks should also be stored in a dedicated area for safety reasons. Should a cold drink be placed around hot equipment, such as as a deep fryer, that drink can spill causing hot oil to splash on anyone within close proximity. It is much easier and much safer to have employee food and drinks in a central location. Plus, if the health department shows up and sees drinks in the kitchen, you will be cited for a safety violation.