Five Most-Common Kitchen Injuries (And How to Prevent Them)

April 09 2019 – Robert Fiumara

How to Protect Your Kitchen Staff From Common Work Injuries 

To an outsider, working in a kitchen can seem like a relatively safe profession – and it can be, provided kitchen employees and business owners alike take the proper safety precautions. However, it is important to be aware of the types of injuries most common in a busy kitchen setting in order to exercise adequate prevention. 

What kitchen injuries could you be susceptible to? How can you prevent them? Read on for a list of the most common injuries as well as tips for preventing them.

1. Slips And Falls - With all manner of foods and liquids traveling about the kitchen on a daily basis, it’s no wonder slips and falls are some of the most common kitchen injuries. Exercise caution when moving liquids around the kitchen and clean spills immediately. Even if spills are adequately cleaned up, the resulting damp floor can present its own slip and fall hazard. Aside from marking potentially slippery areas, the best way to prevent slips and falls is to utilize non-slip mats in the kitchen, and by wearing high-quality, non-slip footwear.

2. Cuts - Cuts can come from various sources, such as raw edges on a metal can, a slip while cutting meat or produce, an unsteady cutting board, or even reaching into a drawer to retrieve a utensil only to find yourself injured from a sharp object in the drawer. Besides exercising the appropriate amount of caution while performing knife work, ensure all cutting boards are placed on a non-skid surface or place a towel underneath the cutting board to prevent movement. Order all utensils in a drawer with the handles facing towards the user to prevent injury.

3. Burns And Scalds - Perhaps it isn’t surprising that burns and scalds are common in a kitchen setting. When removing food from an oven or stove burner, utilize protective gear and ensure the way is clear first before moving the product to another area. In addition, warn coworkers you’re about to move behind them with hot pans. Finally, wearing chef gear that fits properly and does not have loose or draping elements can cut down on accidental clothing fires and burn injuries resulting from snags and bumping into hot items.

4. Repetitive Motion Injuries - Injuries from repeating the same motions over and over occur frequently in professional kitchens. Injuries such as tennis elbow – or tendonitis of the elbow from repeated chopping, mixing, and other motions – can be prevented by rest, or treated with ice, and over-the-counter pain medication. Chef’s foot – arthritis of the big toe from standing in one position too long – can be prevented by wearing comfortable, non-slip shoes with plenty of space around the big toe.

5. Bacterial Infections - Even the cleanest kitchen can expose restaurant worker and patron alike to bacterial infection if workers do not take the proper care to handle food safely. When you include the additional risk of infection for kitchen workers suffering from other types of kitchen injuries, it becomes even more important to address the risks of bacterial infection. Practicing basic food safety tips such as using separate utensils and cutting boards for meats, poultry, fish, and produce, and adequately sanitizing all surfaces of the kitchen can help prevent the spread of bacteria. In addition, utilizing chef’s whites that can be bleached and sanitized after contamination adds an extra layer of protection for both employee and patron. 

    Although kitchen injuries are common, with proper care, kitchenware, and safety procedures, they can become much less frequent.

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