Young Worker Safety in Restaurants
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rollover image 1 Cooling Vent - Heat Hazards rollover image 3 Emergency Extinguisher - Fire Hazards rollover image 18
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rollover image 6 Circuit Breakers - Electrical Hazards rollover image 8 rollover image 20
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rollover image 10 Oven - Burns rollover image 12 rollover image 22
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rollover image 16 Cook - Strains and Sprains rollover image 18 rollover image 24
Wood-heated Oven - Burns rollover image 25
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rollover image 23 Deep Fat Fryer rollover image 25 rollover image 29
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rollover image 28 Floor Mats - Slips/Trips/Falls rollover image 30 rollover image 32
Open Stove - Burns rollover image 32 rollover image 33
rollover image 33 Fire Extinguisher - Fire Hazards rollover image 35 rollover image 34
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The Cooking area of a restaurant offers young workers an opportunity for developing cooking skills, while learning to handle equipment and organize tasks. Young workers in this area may also be exposed to the following hazards:

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Safety Poster
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Burns
Potential Hazard

steam oven
No Operators under 18 years old Remember: Child labor laws do not permit workers younger than 16 to cook, except at soda fountains, lunch counters, snack bars, and cafeteria serving counters.

Burn injuries are common among teen employees in restaurants. Young workers who work as fry cooks are at special risk for burn injuries. Factors such as inexperience and the pressure to "keep up" during busy periods can lead to potential accidents. Other hazards include exposure to:
  • Hot oil, grease, and steam from hot surfaces, hot food and beverages, and equipment such as stoves, grills, steamers, and fryers. Deep fat fryers are the number one cause of burns.
Possible Solutions

Young Worker Solutions
Employers have the primary responsibility for protecting the safety and health of their workers. Employees are responsible for following the safe work practices of their employers.

Follow all safety procedures and wear all protective equipment provided by your employer and be trained in the proper use of equipment, for example:

Shortened apron
Shortened apron

Proper length apron
Proper length apron

Oven mitt
Oven mitt

Pasta steamer
Pasta steamer

Don't reach above ovens or steamers while removing food.
Don't reach above ovens or steamers while removing food.

Slip-resistant shoes
Slip-resistant shoes
  • Do wear long-sleeved cotton shirts and pants when cooking. A clean, dry, properly worn apron or uniform can protect you from burns and hot oil splashes.

  • Do not cook without wearing protective clothing, even in hot temperatures or environments.

  • Use appropriate hand protection when hands are exposed to hazards such as cuts, lacerations, and thermal burns. Use oven mitts or pot holders when handling hot items, and steel mesh or Kevlar gloves when cutting.

  • Learn to use equipment and personal protective equipment properly and safely. For example, if cooking with steamers and pasta boilers:
    • Use tongs and oven mitts to remove hot items from steamers or pasta boilers.
    • Place hot steamed items on trays to carry, rather than carrying steamed containers across the floor, leaving a trail of dripping hot water that may cause slips and falls.
    • Open ovens or steamers by standing to the side, keeping the door between you and the open steamer.
    • Open the top steamer first when steamers are stacked, and then the lower one to prevent being burned from the rising steam.
    • Do not stand above steaming items or equipment. Steam can burn.
    • Do not reach above an oven or steamer. Hot air and steam rises and you could be burned.
    • Do not open cookers and steam ovens when they are under pressure.

  • Check hot foods on stoves or in the microwave carefully. Uncover a container of steaming materials by lifting the lid open away from your face.

  • Place sealed cooking pouches in boiling water carefully to avoid splashing.

  • Assume that pots, pot handles, and utensils in pots are hot and use oven mitts when handling them. Use long gloves for deep ovens.

  • Adjust burner flames to cover only the bottom of the pan. Avoid overcrowding on range tops.

  • Wear sturdy footwear that is slip resistant and not canvas or open-toed to protect the feet in case hot liquids are spilled on shoes.

  • Ask for help when moving or carrying a heavy pot of hot liquid off the burner.

  • Do not allow pot handles or cooking utensils to stick out from counters or stove fronts. Keep pot handles away from burners.

  • Avoid overfilling pots and pans.

  • Do not clean vents over grill areas if the grill is hot. Clean vents the next morning before turning on for the day.

  • Do not use metal containers, foil, or utensils in a microwave oven.

  • Do not pour or spill water or ice into oil, especially hot oil. It will cause splattering.

  • Do not leave hot oil or grease unattended.

  • Do not use a wet cloth to lift lids from hot pots.

  • Do not lean over pots of boiling liquid.
Employer Solutions
Employers have the primary responsibility for protecting the safety and health of their workers. Employees are responsible for following the safe work practices of their employers.
  • Follow the child labor laws that do not permit workers younger than 16 to cook, except at soda fountains, lunch counters, snack bars, and cafeteria serving counters.
  • Follow OSHA standards including:
    • Assess tasks to identify potential worksite hazards and provide and ensure employee use of appropriate PPE. See the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Standard [1910.132].
    • Require employees to use appropriate hand protection when hands are exposed to hazards such as cuts, lacerations, and thermal burns. See the Hand Protection Standard [1910.138(a)].

Additional References
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