Good food is at the heart of many events, so it’s important to ensure your Post kitchen crew stays safe as they work to make your event a success. Injuries are common in busy kitchens, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and OSHA, but safety can help reduce the risks.
Cuts and burns are some of the most common kitchen injuries. Learn how these injuries can be prevented and learn first aid tips, in case they occur.
Cut Prevention Tips
Preventing cut injuries in the kitchen all comes down to safe knife use:
- Maintain knives with periodic sharpening. A sharpened knife’s performance is more predictable and offers more control when cutting.
- Cut on a stable surface that won’t wobble or slide. A sturdy cutting board is ideal.
- Wash knives one at a time with the blade facing away from you. Never put them in a sink full of water, as you could forget they’re there or an unaware person could jump in on washing duties.
- Resist the impulse to catch falling knives. It’s safer to retrieve the dropped knife from the floor.
- Avoid knife handoffs in the kitchen. Lay the tool on the work surface and let the other person pick it up.
- If you are moving through the kitchen with knives, do so with care. Hold the knife at your side, with the tip pointing down and the blade facing behind you.
- Store knives safely, either in sturdy sheaths, trays, woodblocks or other purpose-built holders.
- Form your guide hand into a “claw” position, with finger tips slight curved under and pointed away from the blade as they grip the food. It’s a safer position to be in if the knife slips.
- Take your time on food prep. Avoid rushing, as this is when accidents are most common.
- Use kitchen knives only for intended purposes. Don’t use them to open cans or elsewhere around the Post as a utility knife.
First Aid for Cuts
For minor cuts:
- Clean the wound with soap and water.
- Prevent infection by encouraging the blood to ooze for a few minutes.
- Control bleeding by applying pressure with a clean cloth or bandage.
- Dab antibacterial ointment on the wound and cover with a bandage or gauze.
For serious cuts where blood is squirting, the cut is long or deep or fingers are lost:
- Take immediate steps to control bleeding and call 911.
Burn Prevention Tips
There are many hazards in the kitchen that can cause burns, including:
- Open flames
- Hot water
- Hot cooking oil
- Steam releases
- Spills or splashes from hot foods or liquids
- Hot pots, pans, trays and dishes
- Hot stove ranges and oven racks
Follow these tips to reduce the risk of kitchen burns:
- Pay close attention to the task at hand.
- Avoid wearing loose clothing when working near open flames.
- Use protective equipment where appropriate, including aprons and oven mitts.
- Adjust burner flames to cover only the bottom of the pan.
- Turn pans so their handles are not over the stove burners or sticking out past the range.
- Avoid splashing, spattering, steam releases and flare-ups during cooking.
- Keep a close eye on hot oil and grease and never leave it unattended.
- Use a cart to help move hot foods and drinks around the kitchen and dining room.
- Get help moving large or awkwardly shaped pots of hot liquid.
- Be aware of your surroundings and watch out for spills, obstacles and other kitchen crew.
First Aid for Burns
Treatment depends on the type of burn.
- First-degree burns: These burns are red and painful. Remove clothing or jewelry near the burn and flush with cool, running water for 3 to 5 minutes. Apply antibiotic ointment.
- Second-degree burns: These burns are deeper and may involve blisters and swelling. Soak in cool water for 15 to 30 minutes, then apply antibiotic cream and cover with a sterile dressing.
- Third-degree burns: These burns involve all layers of skin and may involve white or blackened tissue. Third-degree burns are a medical emergency, so cover the wound in cool, wet dressing and call 911 or go to the emergency room.
Thankfully, while cuts and burns in the kitchen are a common occurrence, most are minor injuries. Share these tips to ensure your Post’s members follow these kitchen safety tips and ensure your Post’s first aid kit is fully stocked, just in case.