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Top 8 Safety Tips in the Kitchen

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Whether you’re a frequent at-home cook or professional chef, there are safety tips in the kitchen to follow to prevent most of the worst kitchen injuries.

What are the most common kitchen injuries?

The top kitchen injuries reported by both casual and professional cooks are cuts, slips, and burns. Food-borne illnesses from the mishandling of certain foods are also a common concern and should be at the top of a cook’s mind whether they’re cooking for themselves or others.

Let’s take a look at some easy safety tips in the kitchen to stay safe in the kitchen. 

Tidy professional kitchen

1. Keep a Tidy Kitchen

Kitchens can become hectic. Keeping a tidy, organized space can prevent injuries that occur from rushing around the kitchen and not paying attention to potential hazards around you. Clean up as you go and wipe up any spills as they happen to prevent trips and falls. A small amount of cooking oil at your feet is a bad accident waiting to happen.

2. Keep a First Aid Kit Nearby

Keep a first aid kit in the kitchen to treat minor cuts and scrapes from kitchen mishaps. Include different sizes of gauze and bandages, scissors, burn cream, sterile gloves, adhesive tape, cold packs, and antiseptic wipes. A professional kitchen may want to include a more thorough kit, even an eyewash station, to treat workplace injuries until medical care is available.

3. Dress for Safety

Wearing an apron will protect your clothing from splashes and spills, but it’s even more important to consider what else you’re putting on when you cook to keep you safe. 

Always wear shoes when working in the kitchen. You want to protect your feet in case of dropped kitchen tools or spills, and give yourself some additional traction to prevent trips and falls. 

Avoid wearing dangly jewelry or loose clothing that could get caught on things while you’re cooking. Tie back your hair for the same reason. Wear gloves if you’re handling spicy foods or other ingredients that may irritate the skin or your eyes. 

Professional chef washing his hands

4.Sanitize as Often as Possible

Keeping a sanitized kitchen is important in preventing food-borne illnesses. Clean surfaces that have had any contact with raw meats and eggs with disinfectants. Learn about how to avoid cross-contamination. Avoid using the same cutting board for raw meats and vegetables, for example. You don’t want to spread germs like salmonella. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after cooking to prevent transferring germs to your food or work surfaces.

5. Learn How to Use Knives

Knives are the most common kitchen tool you’ll reach for on a daily basis, so it’s important that you know how to use them both effectively and safely. Have a few different knives that will serve different purposes. If you’re peeling a piece of fruit, you don’t need to do so with your large chef’s knife. 

Keep your knives sharp. It may make sense to think that dull knives are safer than sharp ones, but a dull knife requires more pressure to cut through whatever you’re using it for. If it slips, it could lead to a worse injury than a nick with a sharper knife.

6. Understand Fire Safety

All fires in the kitchen shouldn’t be treated equally. If you encounter a grease fire, use a pan cover, large cookie sheet, or baking soda to put it out. Water will only make the fire worse. If you see a fire in your microwave, keep the door shut until it’s extinguished. Unplug your microwave while you wait.

Have easy access to a fire extinguisher and know how to use it. Make sure that all of your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working.

7. Be Aware of Hot Surfaces

Burns are one of the more common reasons people seek help from urgent care, particularly during the summertime barbecuing season. That doesn’t always have something to do with an open flame, though. More often than not, burns are the result of contact with hot surfaces.

Keep oven mitts handy for handling handles or moving items out of the oven. If you work with an electric stove, be especially careful while your stove is heating up so you don’t set your hand down on a hot stove. Turn handles away from you when working on the stove.

Note: While an urgent care facility can handle minor burns sustained in the kitchen, if it’s a severe burn, you should head to an emergency room, instead.

8. Maintain a Safe Work Space

If you’re working as a professional chef, there are a few additional tips to maintain a safe workspace despite the frenetic pace of working in a kitchen.

  • Identify hazards. Be aware of potential hazards for slips, burns, and other common kitchen injuries. Address them if you can. For example, you can make sure that you and anyone else working alongside you understands how to use all available kitchen tools safely. 
  • Participate in safety training. Your workplace should provide training about not only how to successfully present delicious plates of food, but how to do so safely. Appropriate knife skills and how to operate large kitchen appliances are two areas that could reduce kitchen injuries, even if training is informal or as part of an apprenticeship. 
  • Communicate. A professional kitchen can be a loud place. That only makes it even more important to communicate throughout a kitchen shift to avoid trips and collisions that can cause workplace injuries. This is especially important in a tight kitchen space.
  • Understand workers’ compensation benefits. You should know your rights before an injury occurs at the workplace. If you work in a kitchen, know where to go if a workplace injury occurs and how to document that injury to get the medical help you need. If you’re the employer, maintain workers’ compensation insurance and an occupational safety plan. 

An urgent care like Reliant can help with not only treating workplace injuries but issuing same-day reporting of incidents at the workplace. 

If you’re not sure whether you need to come into the urgent care, schedule a virtual appointment to talk with a healthcare specialist about your health concerns. We’re here to help you get back on your feet and back in the kitchen as safely as possible.