It’s mesmerizing to watch a professional chef seamlessly dice an onion or a tomato in what seems like 4 nanoseconds. Everyone wants to be that person. The problem is, that professional chef is making precise, calculated motions which took years of practice (and probably a few close calls) to hone.
Looking like cool or more experienced than you really are certainly isn’t worth your pointer finger. But lackadaisical knife safety results in about 434,000 injuries each year, kitchen knives making up about 36% of those injuries.
It’s important for restaurant owners to ensure that kitchen staff, especially individuals they’ve hired who are considered “green” or inexperienced, are schooled in how to properly use all kinds of cutlery in order to prevent these types of injuries from occurring.
Take the following precautions to ensure members of your kitchen staff don’t become a statistic:
- Require safe footwear. When people think of knife safety, they typically worry about injuries that can occur while the tool is actively being used, but in a busy kitchen, falling objects, including knives, are common. Be sure to require kitchen staff to wear proper footwear while on the clock.
- Only allow employees who’ve been trained in knife safety to use knives. A commercial kitchen is a fast-paced environment. It’s understandable for staff-members to see orders build-up to the point that they just sigh and think to themselves, fine, I’ll do it. But this cannot occur – a particularly busy night at the restaurant does not negate the negative impact that a penalty incurred by OSHA will cause.
- Keep knives sharp. This may sound counter-intuitive, however dull knives can often cause accidents to occur. When the tool isn’t operating properly, the person using it has to resort to techniques that are unsafe in order to make it work the way they want it to.
- Check knife handles regularly. A loose knife handle is always an accident waiting to happen. Account for all cutlery tools in your kitchen when you take inventory and ensure that none of the handles are loose or damaged.
- Do not allow staff to put knives in sinks filled with water. Soapy water filled with knives in a busy kitchen is yet another recipe for disaster. Ensure your staff knows to clean used knives immediately after use.
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