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Click on the area for more specific information. Dietary Module Automatic Plate Riser Kevlar Glove Fire Extinguisher Fire Hazard Hazardous Cleaning Chemicals Eye Wash Station Material Safety Data Sheets Dough Mixer Meat Slicer Continuous Feed Dishwasher Steamer Non-slip Mat Ceiling Plugs Cutting Board/Foodborne Disease Knife

Common safety and health topics:

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Review the hazards and then tour the virtual reality room.


Potential Hazard

Dietary employees must perform many lifting, reaching, and repetitive tasks as part of their job duties. Employee activities in this area, if occurring with sufficient duration, magnitude, and/or frequency, may create a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD).

Kitchen worker using extended/elevated reach

Kitchen worker using extended/elevated reach.
Kitchen worker scooping ingredients with flexed wrist

Kitchen worker scooping ingredients with flexed wrist.

Repositioned Task - Box placed on side, allows for less reaching
Repositioned Task - Box placed on side, allows for less reaching.
Possible Solutions

Assess worksites for ergonomic stressors and identify and address ways to decrease them such as:


  • Provide height adjustable workspaces appropriate for the task being performed, so that workers can keep elbows close to the body. For example, lower countertops, or use height adjustable countertops or stands, or provide work stands for employees.
  • Redesign or reposition tasks to allow elbows to remain close to the body, (e.g., turn boxes over on side to allow for easier access).
Keep most work activities within repetitive access area.
Keep most work activities
within repetitive access area.

  • Avoid awkward postures (e.g., reposition work in front of worker rather than reaching above or behind to get supplies).
  • Use mechanical aids to reduce the need to lift. Use a spring device to automatically lift a load (e.g., use automatic plate and cup riser dispensers).
  • Lighten a load that needs to be lifted or get help when lifting.
  • Train workers to use proper lifting techniques.
Repetitive motions
  • Rotate workers through repetitive tasks.

  • Use mechanical aids for chopping, dicing or mixing foods (e.g., food processors, mixers).
  • Select and use properly designed tools. For example, kitchen scoops or kitchen knives that allow the wrist to remain straight.
Non-ergonomic scoop - Bent Wrist
Non-ergonomic scoop - Bent wrist
Ergonomic scoop - Straight Wrist
Ergonomic scoop - Straight wrist

  • Maintain a neutral (handshake) wrist position.
  • Restructure jobs to reduce repeated motions, forceful hand exertions, and prolonged bending.
Kitchen knives
30 degree bend
30 degree bend
Upright handle
Upright handle
Pistol grip
Pistol grip
45 degree bend
45 degree bend

Book For additional information, see HealthCare Wide Hazards - Ergonomics.

Additional Information:
  • Ergonomics. OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page.
  • Hospital Kitchen and Food Preparation. Ergonomic Report.
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Kitchen Equipment

Potential Hazard

Kitchen equipment pose special hazards to the dietary worker. Some of these hazards include: hot surfaces, which may cause burns; cuts and lacerations from the use of sharp objects; becoming caught in walk-in freezers; electrical shocks from contact with frayed electrical cords, and amputations from unguarded equipment.

Possible Solutions

  • Employers must assess tasks to identify potential worksite hazards and provide and ensure employee use of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) [29 CFR 1910.132].
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  • Employers shall require employees to use appropriate hand protection when hands are exposed to hazards such as cuts, lacerations, and thermal burns. Examples include the use of oven mitts when handling hot items, and steel mesh or Kevlar gloves when cutting [29 CFR 1910.138(a)].
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  • Good work practices include:

    • The safe handling, use, and storage of knives and other sharp utensils. Cutlery should be kept sharpened and in good condition: dull knives tend to slip and may cause injuries. The direction of the cut should always be away from the body.

    • Knives, saws, and cleavers should be kept in a designated storage area when not in use. The blades should not be stored with the cutting edge exposed. Knife holders should be installed on work tables to prevent worker injury. Knives and other sharp objects should not be put into sinks between periods of use. Newly purchased knives should be equipped with blade guards and knuckle guards that protect the hand form slipping onto the blade.

    • The wheels of food carts should be large, low rolling, low resistance wheels, that can roll easily over mixed flooring as well as gaps between elevators and hallways.
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    • Use appropriate PPE and training to avoid steam burns when working with hot equipment or substances.

    • When uncovering a container of steaming materials, the worker should hold the cover to deflect steam from the face.

    • The handles of cooking utensils should be turned away from the front of the stove.
Book For additional information, see the Machine Guarding Section for large mixers, slicers, and peelers.
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Fire Safety

Stove - Heat Producing EquipmentPotential Hazard

Possible fires from heat producing equipment such as burners, ovens, and grills due to:
  • Poor housekeeping.

  • Un-emptied grease traps (possible grease fires).

  • Dirty ducts (possible flue fires).

  • Improper storage of flammable items.

  • Faulty or frayed electrical cords.
Grease TrapPossible Solutions

  • Provide appropriate and effective employee training for safe handling of equipment.
  • Keep grill and grill duct work free from flammable residues and properly maintained.
  • Keep flammable items must be stored away from heat producing equipment.
  • It is recommended that grease traps be routinely emptied.

Book For additional information, see HealthCare Wide Hazards - Fire Hazards.

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Hazardous Chemicals

Potential Hazard

Employee exposure to possibly hazardous chemicals, such as pesticides, disinfectants, and hazardous drugs in the workplace for example:
  • Ammonia, used as a cleaning agent, and chlorine solutions used as disinfectants in dishwashing, can cause skin, eye, and nose irritations. (Avoid mixing chlorine and ammonia solutions because a chemical reaction may occur and deadly chlorine gas may be released).

  • Drain cleaners, oven cleaners, and grill cleaners can be caustic solutions that can cause skin burns and eye and skin irritations.
Possible Solutions

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  • Implement a written program which meets the requirements of the Hazard Communication Standard to provide for worker training, warning labels, and access to Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).
  • Provide appropriate PPE (e.g., gloves, goggles, splash aprons) when handling hazardous detergents and chemicals [29 CFR 1910.132]. For more information see HealthCare Wide Hazards - PPE.
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  • Medical Services and First Aid: Where the eyes or body of any person may be exposed to corrosive materials, suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body shall be provided within the work area for immediate emergency use [29 CFR 1910.151(c)].
  • To avoid employee contact with dishwashing detergents, good work practice recommends using dishwashing machines with automated detergent dispensers.

    • Workers must still be cautious and use appropriate PPE (e.g., goggles, and/or gloves) when changing out the containers of detergent.
Book For additional information, see HealthCare Wide Hazards - Hazardous Chemicals.

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Machine Guarding

Dish Exit from DishwasherPotential Hazard

Commercial dough mixers and other kitchen equipment pose a hazard to workers from being caught in or by rotating blades and can present various hazards to the employee such as amputations, strangulations, burns, cuts, broken bones, and other injuries. These machines must have guards in place to protect the worker form reaching in, or being pulled into, these hazards.

MixerPossible Solutions

  • OSHA Machine Guarding Standard [29 CFR 1910.212], requires that: Machine guards are provided to protect the operator and other employees in the machine area from hazards [29 CFR 1910.212(a)(1)].

  • Meat slicers must be properly guarded and operated by workers trained in safe work practices to avoid cuts and amputations.

    • Use Tamps or push sticks or other hand tools to feed or remove food from grinders, slicers, or choppers [29 CFR 1910.212(a)(3)(iii)].
  • Continuous feed dishwashers should be properly guarded to prevent accidental scalding of workers by steam and hot water, and possible nip-point injuries from rollers and conveyors.

  • Machine guarding can be accomplished by isolating hazards (e.g., providing barrier guards over a mixer when it is in use to prevent strangulation or amputations).

    • Other methods of machine guarding include:

      • Two-handed tripping devices.

      • Electronic safety devices.

    • Examples of machine guarding for General Industry-Bakery equipment can be found in [29 CFR 1910.263]. Paragraph (c) addresses general requirements for machine guarding in Bakeries.
Additional Information:
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Arrow 1off Foodborne Disease
Foodborne diseases, including foodborne intoxications and foodborne infections, are illnesses contracted by eating contaminated food. Contamination can arise from toxins and bacterial growth that can occur before the food is eaten, or after the food is ingested, and are caused by such organisms as Escherichia coli (E-coli), Salmonella, Staphylococcus Aurous, and Clostridium Perfringens.

OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.141(h) states "In all places of employment where all or part of the food service is provided, food must be handled, processed, prepared, and stored in such a manner as to protect against contamination". However, foodborne disease is primarily a public health concern and in most instances is regulated by local health authorities who enforce their own specific requirements.

Potential Hazard

Employees may develop foodborne illness from eating or handling contaminated food.

Possible Solutions

Wash Your Hands Sign Contact local public health authorities for specific requirements in your area.

Recommended good work practices help ensure effective hand washing techniques, good personal hygiene, and safe food handling/preparation.
  • Food Safety: Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Government food safety information site.

  • Food Code. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Provides guidance on how to prevent foodborne illnesses in facilities such as nursing homes.

Additional Information:
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Ceiling Plugs

Potential Hazard

Employee exposure to wet kitchen floors or spills and clutter can lead to slips, trips, falls, and other possible injuries.

Possible Solutions

  • Floors shall be kept clean and dry [29 CFR 1910.22(a)(2)]. In addition to being a slip hazard, continually wet surfaces promote the growth of mold, fungi, and bacteria which can cause infections.
Wet Kitchen Floors
  • Keep aisles and passageways clear and in good repair, with no obstruction across or in aisles that could create a hazard [29 CFR 1910.22(b)(1)]. Provide floor plugs or ceiling plugs for equipment, so power cords do not run across pathways.

Book For additional information, see HealthCare Wide Hazards - Slips/Trips/Falls.

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Electrical Safety

Potential Hazard

Electrocution or shock from unsafe work practices, faulty electrical equipment, or wiring.

Possible Solutions

Employers must:
Receptacle Type (GFCI)
Receptacle Type
Employers should use ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) on all 120-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere receptacles.

Additional Information:

Book For additional information, see HealthCare Wide Hazards - Electrical Hazards.

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Infectious Materials in Isolation Rooms
Potential Hazard

Dietary employees may be exposed to respiratory hazards, blood or OPIM, if they are required to take dietary trays to patients in isolation rooms. Exposure to infectious materials may also occur when handling red bagged contaminated food trays that have come from isolation rooms, to the kitchen to be sterilized.

Possible Solutions
  • Establish Universal Precautions:

    • Universal Precautions: An approach to infection control which treats all human blood and other potentially infectious materials (OPIM), as if they were infectious for HIV and HBV or other bloodborne pathogens [29 CFR 1910.1030(b)].

    • Universal Precautions 29 CFR 1910.1030(d)(1) in The Bloodborne Pathogens Standard requires:

      • Treat all blood and other potentially infectious materials with appropriate precautions such as: Use gloves, masks, and gowns if blood or OPIM exposure is anticipated.

      • Use engineering and work practice controls to limit exposure.
  • Educate and train all exposed employees to safely enter and exit isolation rooms and to safely handle food trays coming from isolation rooms.

  • Encourage staff to special bag contaminated trays coming from isolation rooms and label the bag with what precautions are necessary to safely handle the contents (e.g., use universal precautions).

  • Use only disposable trays and plastic ware in isolation rooms.

Book For additional information, see HealthCare Wide Hazards - Tuberculosis, Bloodborne Pathogens, and (Lack of) Universal Precautions.

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