Commercial Kitchen Knife Safety

Topics: Loss Control

Summary: Looking for tips on how to prevent cuts in the kitchen? Restaurants can make their workplaces safer by encouraging employees to: wear protective gear, mind fingers and thumbs when cutting, pay attention to the task at hand, assign trained workers to sharpen knives, use knives for food prep only and properly store knives. These safety tips on kitchen knife usage can be applied to professional settings in commercial kitchen as well as at home. 

How to Prevent Cuts in the Kitchen

In commercial kitchens, cuts are a constant risk because employees work around sharp objects. In fact, a third of all reported restaurant workers' compensation claims are made up of injuries like cuts, punctures and scrapes – wounds that are often attributed to improper knife handling during food preparation in commercial kitchens. This is why it’s crucial that all employees undergo knife safety training so they understand how to correctly chop, slice and dice to avoid injuries in the workplace.

Proper Kitchen Knife Safety Training Tips for Workers to Prevent Injury 

Restaurant industry statistics from the past ten years show an average increase from 48.3 to 50 percent for workers’ compensation restaurant claims. Because so many claims are submitted due to cuts and other abrasions, employees should take extra precautions when working with sharp tools. Here are a few safety rules and training tips for employees who use knives to help avoid cuts in the kitchen:

Wear protective gear to help prevent cuts 

Employees who use knives regularly should be required to wear appropriate hand and foot protection at all times. OSHA standards for hand protection includes steel mesh or Kevlar gloves to guard hands from blade cuts from both knives and equipment like mandolins slicers. Additionally, the staff should wear sturdy, close-toed shoes to protect their feet should a knife be dropped accidentally. When the workplace safety rule to wear protective gear around sharp tools isn’t implemented and properly enforced, injuries occur more commonly. The only exception to this rule should be in the instance of using meat processing equipment like band saws, meat cubers or grinders, as wearing gloves in these situations could actually lead to a catastrophic injury.

One important note about cut-resistant gloves to also keep in mind is that they are meant only for cutting; they are not heat-resistant and should never be used as oven mitts.

Mind fingers and thumbs when cutting objects

As food is being cut, make sure fingers and thumbs are not in the way by keeping the digits of the hand not holding the knife tucked in. Use a stable cutting board or other solid surface and be sure to cut away from the body. Never touch the sharp edge of the knife itself.

Pay attention to the task at hand when cutting

Employees should avoid distractions while slicing and dicing. This means leaving the conversation for later, or putting the knife down on a smooth, flat surface to continuing talking when interrupted.

Leave sharpening knives to the professionals

When it comes to knife safety, the sharper the knife the better. A sharp knife provides workers more control, as a dull one can easily slip and cause an injury. Only experienced, trained workers should sharpen knives. They should be sharpened on a regular basis to keep them in good condition and as effective and as safe as possible for employees. After knives have been sharpened, however, make sure the staff is aware of that fact.

Only use knives for food preparation

Avoid using knives for activities like opening cans or boxes. The knife could easily slip or even break and cause injury. Additionally, use the appropriate knife for the item being cut.

Properly store knives when not in use

Knives should be placed in a designated area when not in use, keeping the blades with the cutting edge facing safely away. Never toss knives into a sink between uses. Instead, a container should be available only for dirty knives and other sharp objects. Another approach would be to clean knives immediately following use, washing them with the blade facing away from the body.

Restaurant Risk Report

Loss Control and Restaurant Insurance from AmTrust Financial

Implementing a variety of restaurant safety tips like the ones above can help reduce the frequency and severity of employees’ injuries. AmTrust’s Loss Control Department can identify specific hazards and offer solutions that fit your operation. We are dedicated to providing the right recommendations and resources necessary to create the most effective loss prevention program for your specific needs . Additionally, we offer coverage to a variety of restaurant types, from fine dining establishments to mobile food vendors. Please contact us today to learn more.

Amtrust Financial’s review of restaurant class codes reveal average claims costs vary widely across different injuries, lost time, seasonality, geographical and restaurant types. For more information, download our report today.

This material is for informational purposes only and is not legal or business advice. Neither AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries or affiliates represents or warrants that the information contained herein is appropriate or suitable for any specific business or legal purpose. Readers seeking resolution of specific questions should consult their business and/or legal advisors.

Time Zones