A Safer Back of House
Commercial kitchens are the backbone of every restaurant, but the bustling busyness of the back of house leaves your workers open for potential injuries. From sharp knives to hot food spillage, kitchens are a hotbed of risks that cost employers both the financial strain of worker’s compensation and lost productivity once your back of house team is out-of-step.
When you streamline your kitchen to maximize safety and efficiency, you help staff avoid missing days that can cause them undue financial stress too. Many restaurant employees are hourly workers. Save everyone time and stress by improving in these five areas.
Back of House Safety
1. Appropriate Dress Code
Although they don’t have to look spiffy in a uniform for customers’ benefit, it’s still crucial that kitchen staff follow dress code. That stereotypical outfit that comes into your head when you hear the word “chef” is a common consensus for a reason. Hats and hairnets prevent hair from getting singed or into the food. Close-toed shoes are necessary to avoid dropping heavy objects on the feet, while nonslip and waterproof shoes prevent discomfort if cooks step in something nasty so their minds can stay focused on the job.
2. Slip Prevention
Spills are bound to happen in a commercial kitchen, whether it’s food that leaves floors sticky or water that causes people to slip. Consider buying mats for your commercial kitchen to reduce the risk of falling and injury on the job.
Signs help. Put up notices so people know when the floors are dirty, if there are extension cords to watch out for and any other hazards. Cordon off affected areas until someone can clean up the mess, although it’s best to encourage workers to tackle spills immediately.
3. Ventilation and Guards
Commercial kitchen equipment needs to be treated with care to protect your back of house team. Equip proper ventilation to let out heat, smoke and smell so kitchen staff can work without interruptions or distractions. Clean vents are required to pass a health inspection anyway, so it’s best to tackle these tasks regularly.
Meanwhile other equipment should have the proper guards so your workers don’t injure themselves on the job. Food preparation can involve sharp, dangerous tools and high speed order turnaround, and this combination can lead to careless mistakes. Make sure nobody loses a finger when they’re hastily slicing the meat for the lunch rush.
4. Fire Preparedness Plan
Grease fires are the most common type of fire that affects commercial kitchens, and it can’t be suppressed with your average sprinkler. Instead, equip a fire suppression system that automatically turns off the gas line when the alarm is tripped. Range hoods now come with fire suppressant spray to help minimize accidents.
In a panic, people will make mistakes and forget the procedures they’ve carefully learned. Staff should know and have easy access to extinguishers, blankets and the trigger for the suppression system. Give your staff fire safety training including basic first aid instruction for treating burns or administering CPR. Do evacuation drills so they know how to safely proceed in the event of an actual emergency.
5. OSHA Compliance
Restaurants need to be OSHA compliant to avoid health hazards and getting shut down by inspectors. Take a day to train staff on OSHA-approved ways to safely lift heavy objects, store and handle ingredients, prevent or reduce stress injuries, and generally remove potential hazards from around their workspaces.
Reducing risks and hazards around a commercial kitchen requires some adjustment, and you might have to implement new systems to guarantee workers’ safety. Rigorous cleaning systems, for example, ensure a hygienic experience for customers but it’s also grown more important for employees as the COVID-19 threat necessitates social distance and increased sanitation on the job.
Incorporate these safety tips into your onboarding and orientation to give your staff the tools they need to work safer and smarter from the jump. Consider streamlining your operations and improving your output with superior restaurant technology.
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