Burn Prevention - A Hot Topic for Restaurants

fryer cooking potato wedges

The American Burn Association estimates that nearly 500,000 burn injuries are treated in medical facilities each year.  This includes all burn injuries, minor to severe, and from all causes.  Focusing on the workplace, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded over 14,000 burns resulting in lost time in 2014. In less than five years MEMIC alone has paid out over $8.5 million in burn claims, so clearly burn prevention is an important topic for all employers.  

Nationally, restaurants account for approximately one-third of all workers’ compensation burn claims.    Restaurants have a high exposure to burn hazards, but if employees are trained properly and use the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) while in the kitchen these results can be improved.

Burn injuries are often associated with the use of the deep fryer.  Direct burns from splashing oil is an obvious cause; these injuries are easily prevented by the use of heat resistant gloves and aprons as needed.  But root causes can also include the all too common slip-fall.  Commercial kitchens are fast paced environments and when kitchens don’t have a proper footwear program in place it can be extremely hazardous to rush around a fryer.  As employees move around the kitchen they often step in oil that has splashed out of the fryers; that oil is then tracked around the kitchen causing a slip hazard.  Often people will start to slip and their natural reaction is to break their fall by grabbing the closest thing around them. When that object is a fryer, serious injuries can result.   

There are many benefits to a corporate shoe program.  One example commonly used is Shoes for Crews.  They offer a wide variety of styles and price-points, and even accept payroll deductions.  They also back their program by saying – “Should any employee have a slip and fall accident while wearing Shoes For Crews® branded footwear, we will reimburse your company up to $5,000 for any direct medical expenses for injuries sustained by your employee.“

Kitchen equipment manufacturers will often have detailed instructions on how to best maintain and clean their equipment.  Standard procedures for how to clean ovens, grills, and fryers should be included in a written policy and discussed with anyone that may have that responsibility.  There are online videos from most manufacturers and cleaning solution companies that can be used to augment training.  However, sometimes these videos don’t demonstrate the proper PPE needed to stay safe in a kitchen, so choose carefully!

Click here for a few tips from BixFluent regarding proper cleaning and maintenance of commercial kitchen fryers.

It takes time for these cleaning processes. Do not start the project unless you know you have the time. It could take an hour to allow the oil to cool enough to handle. Always check first with the manufacturers on the best process and procedure to keep your employees safe!  For more information regarding kitchen safety check out these resources from Food Services of America, Restaurant Technologies, and OSHA

By Alexis Westin