Young Worker Safety in Restaurants
Strains and Sprains Warmer - Kitchen Equipment
Dough Roller - Machine Guarding
Mixer - Machine Guarding
Steamer - Kitchen Equipment
Floor Mat - Slips/Trips/Falls
Knives and Cuts
Slicer - Machine Guarding Floor Mat - Slips/Trips/Falls
Knives and Cuts
Knives and Cuts
Food Preparation

The Food Preparation area of a restaurant offers young workers an opportunity for developing skills in culinary art, sanitation principles, and in the use of kitchen equipment. Young workers in this area may also be exposed to the following hazards:
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Safety Poster

Kitchen Equipment
Potential Hazard

No Operators under 18 years old  Remember: Child labor laws do not permit workers younger than 18  to work with or repair, adjust, or clean power-driven machinery like  meat slicers and bakery mixers.

Employee exposure to kitchen equipment such as slicers, dicers, choppers, mincers, microwaves, mixers, and the possible hazards associated with their use.
Mixer with no machine guarding
No Operators under 18 years old Mixer with no machine guarding
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.

Before operating any machinery workers should:
  • Get trained in their use.

  • Wear any personal protective equipment provided by your employer.

  • Use any machine guarding provided.

  • Always ask for help if you are not sure how to do something.

  • Be aware that age restrictions exist for workers under the age of 18 from using or cleaning certain equipment.

  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions for machine use and cleaning

Follow the general recommendations below to identify and avoid potential hazards associated with kitchen machinery.
Meat slicer
No Operators under 18 years old Meat slicer

Mincers, choppers, dicers, slicers:

  • Always use push sticks or tamps to feed or remove food from these types of machines.
    • Do not use your hands to feed smaller pieces of meat through slicers.
  • Make sure you are using any machine guarding that is provided to prevent access to cutter blades. Do not bypass safety guards.

  • Do not open up or put your hands into an operating machine to stir contents or guide food.

  • Turn off and unplug the machine before disassembling and cleaning.

Mixer with machine guarding
No Operators under 18 years old Mixer with
machine guarding

Microwave ovens in poor repair may omit radiation
Microwave ovens in poor repair
may omit radiation
Food processors, mixers:
  • Do not attempt to remove items (for example, a spoon that falls into the mixture) from dough while the machine is mixing.

  • Do not open up the lids of processors to stir contents while food is processing.

  • Make sure the processor is off before opening the lid or adding items.

  • Turn off and unplug machinery before cleaning or removing a blockage.

  • Use any machine guards provided.

  • Do not wear loose clothing or jewelry that could become caught in machinery.

  • Make sure the microwave is located at approximately waist level and within easy reach, to provide for ease in the lifting of hot foods.

  • Follow manufacturer's instructions for operating microwave ovens.

  • Cover foods cooked in microwaves to avoid splattering.

  • Use caution when opening tightly covered containers. Open containers away from your face because they may be under pressure and could be extremely hot.

  • Use appropriate personal protective equipment such as hot pads when removing foods from microwave.

  • Make sure door seals are in good condition and free from food or grease buildup.
  • Do not use a microwave if it has a door that is damaged or doesn't lock properly. Damaged ovens may emit harmful radiation.

  • Do not microwave metals, foil, or whole eggs.

  • Keep the interior of the microwave clean to avoid splattering and popping.

  • If you notice any sparking inside the microwave, immediately turn off the microwave, unplug it, report it to the supervisor, and do not use it.

  • Be advised that microwaves may interfere with the workings of pacemakers.

  • Be aware that food cooked in the microwave can remain hot long after the microwave turns off.

Pressure cooker
Pressure cooker
Steamers/Pressure Cookers:
  • Do not open the door while the steamer is on, shut off the steam, and then wait a couple of minutes before releasing the pressure and opening.

  • Clear the area around the steamer before opening.

  • Open the steamer door by standing to the side, keeping the door between you and the open steamer.

  • Use oven mitts to remove hot trays from the steamer.

  • Place hot, dripping steamer trays on a cart to transport. If trays are carried by hand, they will drip on floors and create a slip hazard.

  • If a steamer is stacked, remove the tray from the top steamer first, then the lower one, to prevent burns from rising steam.

Pressure Cookers:
  • Shut off the steam supply and wait for the pressure to equalize before opening the lid of the pressure cooker.

  • Stand to the side and open the pressure cooker away from yourself, keeping the open lid between you and the pressure cooker.

Coffee maker
Coffee maker
Coffee Makers:
  • Do not place hot coffee makers close to the edge of counters where people passing by may come in contact with them.

  • Check to make sure the coffee filter is in place before making any coffee.

  • Do not remove the filter before the coffee has stopped dripping.

  • Never stick your fingers into the chamber of a coffee grinder to get beans to drop into the grinder; tapping on the outside of the container will encourage beans to drop into grinder.

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.

Stop - you must be 18 to operate or clean this equipment - PDF
[174 KB PDF, 1 page]
Follow OSHA Standards including:
  • Follow OSHA's Machine Guarding Standard [1910.212]: All machines need to be properly guarded.

  • Follow the child labor laws that do not permit workers younger than 18 to operate, set up, adjust, clean, oil, or repair power-driven food slicers, grinders, choppers, cutters, and bakery mixers and other power-driven bakery machines.
Consider implementing recommended safe work practices, including:
  • Label equipment that young workers are not allowed to operate. The DOL YouthRules! website has available downloadable stickers for employers to place on hazardous equipment to alert all workers that no one under 18 years of age may operate the equipment.
Book For more information, see the Food Preparation - Machine Guarding.

Accessibility Assistance: Contact the OSHA Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 693-2300 for assistance accessing PDF materials.

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