Kitchen equipment poses special hazards to food service workers. Some of these hazards include: hot surfaces, which may cause burns; cuts and lacerations from the use of sharp objects; becoming trapped in walk-in freezers; electrical shocks from contact with frayed electrical cords; and amputations from unguarded equipment.
- 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]
- Employers must select and require employees to use appropriate hand protection when hands are exposed to hazards such as cuts, lacerations, and thermal burns. [29 CFR 1910.138(a)]. Examples of appropriate hand protection might include the use of oven mitts, when handling hot items, and steel mesh or Kevlar gloves, when cutting.
- Ensure that electrical equipment is free from recognized hazards. [29 CFR 1910.303(b)(1)] For more information, see Electrical Safety.
Recognized Controls and Work Practices
- The safe handling, use, and storage of knives and other sharp utensils:
- Keep cutlery sharpened and in good condition: dull knives tend to slip and may cause injuries.
- Always direct the cut away from the body.
- Keep knives, saws, and cleavers in a designated storage area when not in use.
- Do not store the blades with the cutting edge exposed.
- Install knife holders on work tables to prevent worker injury.
- Do not put knives and other sharp objects into sinks between periods of use.
- Ensure that knives are equipped with blade guards and knuckle guards that protect the hand from slipping onto the blade.
- Use appropriate PPE and training to avoid steam burns when working with hot equipment or substances.
- When uncovering a container of steaming materials, hold the cover to deflect steam away from the face.
- Turn the handles of cooking utensils away from the front of the stove.
- Ensure that walk-in freezers have a panic bar or other means of exit on the inside of the freezers to prevent trapping workers inside.
- See Machine Guarding for large mixers, slicers, and peelers.
- Young Worker Safety in Restaurants. OSHA eTool.