Serving up Safety

What’s on the menu if you’re a leader in your restaurant or commercial kitchen? The answer, of course, is the safety of your professional staff. To create a well balanced menu, start by focusing on the industry’s common losses and/or those you may be experiencing.

Losses typically include cuts, strains and sprains, and burns:

  • Cuts – to the hands, fingers, and thumb from knives, other blades, and broken glass or wares
  • Strains and sprains – to the lower extremities, hips, back, and shoulders from falls on wet floors and over-exertions
  • Burns – to the hands, arms, and face from hot surfaces, flames, foods, and liquids

Make sure to include the following preventative items:


  • Utilize food processors or manual processors to reduce the use of knives for some food prep
  • Adopt safe knife use and handling procedures
  • Require the use of cut resistant gloves
  • Scheduled knife sharpening by an outside service
  • Establish written instructions and postings on safe operation and cleaning of equipment

Slips and Falls

  • Slip resistant flooring in good condition and well maintained
  • Plans and actions to keep any walking surface dry and clean
  • Slip resistant footwear (in good condition)
  • Floor mats (in good condition)


  • Establish limits on items or loads carried at one time 
  • Set work heights to reduce bending forward 
  • Teach techniques that keep the elbows near the body
  • Ensure the storage of heavy items or containers at or near waist level


  • Use mitts, gloves, aprons, and/or towels as appropriate 
  • Set limits on filling pots, cups, or other wares 
  • Teach techniques to keep the hands and body away from escaping steam

For the above items to be effective, it takes good leadership to ensure all staff members are aware of established safety goals and performance expectations. Mitts don’t protect if they’re not worn. Knife skills protect only when compliance is 100%. Performance or the actions and behaviors you want embraced must be periodically monitored. When staff members are observed doing the right thing, recognition needs to be expressed. Staff also need to understand that non-compliance will be noticed and consistently addressed.

Additional specialty items are served up on MEMIC’s Safety Director (Webinars on Demand) and at: