Restaurant kitchen safety is about more than following safe food handling practices. The cooks also need to follow safe cooking guidelines to protect themselves, coworkers and the restaurant from danger.
- Make sure necessary pieces of equipment are ventilated. Most pieces of heavy cooking equipment, like restaurant ranges and deep-fat fryers, need to be kept under the kitchen hood. The microwave oven is one of the few pieces of equipment that doesn't need to be under a hood. The vent hood removes excessive heat and toxic fumes from the kitchen. >> Learn More about Excessive Heat Dangers in the Restaurant
- Keep the ventilation system clean. At the end of the day, the vents in the kitchen hood need to be removed and sent through the commercial dishwasher in order to keep them clean and functioning. Vent hoods that are clogged will not remove harmful gasses from the kitchen.
- Make sure the fire suppression system is functioning. The sprinkler lines are not hangers. The fire suppression system is there to save your restaurant and employees in case of fire. You also want to have fire extinguishers at each end of the kitchen for additional fire safety. >> Learn More about Restaurant Fire Hazards
- Keep cooking-area traffic to a minimum. If there are too many people in the kitchen, they can run into one another and spill plates of food or pots of soup all over one another and the floor. This causes burns and slip-and-fall hazards in the kitchen, so keep traffic to a minimum, especially during rush hour.
- Tuck in your shirt. Loose fitting clothing can catch on fire or get caught in machinery on the cook line. Request that employees truck in their shirts and not wear baggy clothing.
- Do not turn the heat up to full-blast automatically. 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.
- Use potholders and oven mitts. Bar towels do not make an acceptable oven mitt because they can become wet, which will just transfer the heat directly to the skin. There are potholders and oven mitts that can withstand hundreds of degrees of heat which will protect employees' hands from burns. >> Learn More about Personal Protective Equipment for Restaurant Workers
- Stand clear when opening oven and steamer doors. Any time the door is opened on a combi oven or commercial steamer, some of the heat will escape, and if employees have their heads over or are standing directly in front of the opening, they can become severely burned. This is especially true with steamers, because steam has more heat energy than hot air alone.
- Keep employee food and drinks out of the kitchen. If cold liquid spills into a fryer, the oil can spray all over the employee or cause a fire, so it is best to keep the beverages out of the kitchen. Also, if the drink spills on the floor, employees can fall and hurt themselves. Employee meals should be taken in a dedicated break area, because eating in the kitchen is a health inspection violation.