Whether in a busy fast-food restaurant or a fine-dining eatery, kitchens can easily get chaotic. With chefs and cooks preparing food, waiters and runners delivering the food, and bus boys moving through with dirty dishware, this fast-paced atmosphere can become crowded, messy and dangerous.
In addition to burns, cuts and other cooking injuries, kitchens can be hazardous because people slip and fall while they're rushing around. Luckily, employers can reduce the likelihood of these injuries by using slip-resistant mats that can help give everyone from chefs to servers the grip and friction they need to keep their footing during the dinner rush.
Although slip-resistant mats are critical to restaurant kitchen safety, employee vigilance is also important. So if you’re trying to figure out how to prevent falls in the kitchen, here are a few of the most common reasons for kitchen slips and what employers and their workers can do to reduce their risk of injury.
Incorrectly Used Drains
Drains are an important aspect of modern kitchens. They allow for simple washing when there's a large spill as well as easy cleanup for any overflowing liquid. According to Food Service Warehouse, drains can also present a danger to employees when not used properly.
Drains are one of the most common causes of falls in the kitchen. Floor drains can lead to injuries for restaurant employees if they're obstructed or clogged, as they can prevent water from draining and lead to a flooded and slippery surface. This underscores the importance of proper drain maintenance and not covering the opening with boxes or other items.
Drain caps can also cause problems if not attached correctly. Whether they're sticking out slightly or not properly screwed in, they can cause an unevenness in the floor that can easily lead an employee to trip.
Spills, Water and Wax
Because kitchens deal with so much food, liquids and oils, spills are bound to happen. But when employees aren't prepared for these accidents, an unsafe work environment can be created. Whether it's a box of vegetable oil being dropped near the kitchen's pantry or a leak in the sink's faucet, these spills are some of the main reasons why people can slip in the kitchen.
Slip-resistant mats can help restaurant employees with mild spills, while safety protocols and having cleaning supplies nearby can help with larger messes. The California Department of Industrial Relations advised people to wipe spills immediately, wear appropriate work shoes, use signs to mark wet areas and understand any risks of the cleaning chemicals being used.
People should also remember that recently waxed floors can be similarly slippery and dangerous.
The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association, best known as ISSA, advised employers to think about footwear for kitchen and restaurant safety.
"For those employees that may be exposed to oily, wet or otherwise slippery walking surfaces, provide access to slip-resistant footwear and make it a requirement," ISSA told employers.
Whether the environment is wet or the kitchen's floors are just slippery on their own, footwear that provides grip and friction can be an invaluable tool when it comes to how to prevent slips and falls in the kitchen.
Loose Tiles and Uneven Ground
As a restaurant gets older, it's important for employers to keep up with maintenance. Areas where tiles are becoming loose or the ground has become uneven over the years are accidents waiting to happen. Although these areas can be costly to fix and the look of them may not bother anyone, they can create minor inconsistencies in walking that can lead to falls. Injuries from slips and trips can cause painful and serious injuries to employees as well as cost millions in workers' compensation claims.
When a kitchen is busy nearly every day, sometimes it can be hard to find the time to pick up. This can create clutter and kitchen equipment obstructing the walkway. Although most people can adapt to this new way of maneuvering around the space, it increases the chances that a serious fall or slip can occur, and it's best not to risk it.