4 tips for staying safe as a restaurant chef

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A personal kitchen is a dangerous enough setting. Increase the size of the space, incorporate commercial equipment and tools, add in other chefs and you've got yourself a high-risk scenario where safety is of utmost importance.

The kitchen houses many dangers – sharp knives, hot surfaces, fires, slippery floors and more. Additionally, in an industrial setting, there are many foods being prepared at once, and if someone gets distracted and forgets about a dish on the stove or in the oven, it can become a fire hazard. There are many ways in which a situation can get out of hand in a restaurant kitchen, making it essential for cooks and other staff members to stay safe.

Recognize the importance of the kitchen
As if the risks weren't enough to begin with, cooks also have to worry about getting dishes out on time. Diners expect to have their food on their tables within a certain time frame. Depending on attendance, chefs may have to keep up with many orders at once, all of which require different ingredients, preparation methods and cooking times. High attention to detail, an ability to work efficiently and well in a fast-paced environment and level-headedness are essential traits for chefs and other kitchen employees.

Staying safe while upholding the restaurant's reputation and guaranteeing diner satisfaction is a serious undertaking. Here are four tips on how to stay safe while working in the kitchen.

1. Invest in slip-resistant shoes: Between food spills and the water used to wash dishes, you can bet that the floors will be slippery. Keep yourself safe by purchasing shoes that are comfortable and slip-resistant. Not all work shoes are made the same when it comes to slip-resistance. Look for a reputable company that's served the food service industry for years to ensure that you're investing in the best of the best.

2. Dress properly: Handling hot foods and dishes will be safer with long sleeves. Of course, the environment itself will be incredibly warm, so this can be unappealing, but it's essential in protecting your arms from burns that can be caused by hot foods and surfaces. If you have long hair, tying it back isn't only required for food safety, but it also keeps it out of your eyes and ensures that it doesn't come into contact with dangerous substances. 

3. Watch where you're stepping: Depending on the layout, when you're trying to get from point A to point B, you may be more focused on what's ahead of you than what's below you. However, doing so can result in slips, which can be even riskier given the many hot foods and sharp items around the area. Frequently checking the floor will allow you to avoid spills. If you spot any, place a wet floor sign over the spill to inform others of the danger and clean it up as soon as possible.

4. Communicate often: Whether you're transporting a hot plate or someone else is, letting others around you know that you're moving through the area will ensure that everybody stays safe. You don't want to risk skirting by someone with a fresh bowl of soup. Additionally, constant communication can let others know of any spills or other risky areas around the kitchen.

Staying safe while working in a restaurant kitchen is a matter of being prepared yourself and working well with the team. There's definitely a learning curve, but knowing about best practices will allow you to avoid injuries and enjoy your job.

Brought to you by Shoes For Crews, the trusted leader in safety footwear to foodservice employees for more than 30 years.

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