The kitchen is the center of activity in a long term care facility. Hundreds of meals and snacks come out of the kitchen everyday so no wonder it is a busy place. The kitchen staff always works hard to serve delicious and nutritious meals.

But the kitchen can be a dangerous environment for employees. Open flames and steam are commonplace.  Spills can make the floor slippery and cause an accident in a matter of moments. Employees must be made aware of the many hazards that exist in the dietary kitchen.

The best way to safeguard the health and well-being of employees is to have established procedures in place to protect everyone’s safety. An accident generally happens when a procedure is not followed properly. For example, the policy states that spills must be mopped up immediately. However, a puddle of water ignored can create a disaster if someone were to slip and fall. It is essential for staff to comply with these guidelines to limit the potential for something adverse to happen.

Fire prevention is critical to be practiced by all employees. Staff must follow procedures to assure required cooking temperatures are maintained, surfaces are cleaned and free of grease build-up. Handles of pots should be turned inwards to avoid the pan being knocked over and a fire occurring.

Staff needs to be trained on a continuous basis to reinforce safety and fire prevention. Employees need to know how to respond to an emergency. Most fires that occur in the kitchen involve Class B materials. These are also known as flammable liquids. These include oil and grease which are used during the cooking process. When an employee leaves a saucepan with butter unattended, a Class B fire can produce very hot temperatures, lots of smoke and a potential for disaster. Most kitchens are equipped with a fire suppression system located under the exhaust hood which aid in fighting the fire before it gets out of hand.

Knives can cause serious cuts and injuries if employees are not paying attention or are working too fast. Remind staff to slow down while they are working with sharp knives to avoid serious cuts.

Burns are one of the most common accidents in the kitchen. Remind the staff to be careful with hot pans and liquids which causes a majority of burns. Steam burns can be one of the more severe burns an employee can experience. Train the staff to open convection steamers with caution and take their time.

In order to make a large quantity of food for residents, employees are required to utilize different types of equipment. Slicers, fryers, buffalo choppers, mixers and ovens are standard. Along with the conveniences these machines offer are some real dangers in operating them. Staff must be provided thorough training before using the various types of equipment in the kitchen. Make sure all employees understand that all electrical equipment must be unplugged prior to cleaning or servicing it.

Employees should also be prepared to administer first-aid if any accidents do happen while on duty. Staff should be knowledgeable in knowing who to call in an emergency.

While none of us ever want an accident to occur in the kitchen, it is imperative that staff is well-trained to respond to emergencies and how to prevent them in the first place. Remind employees to slow down if they are rushing and give them the proper training and guidance to avoid workplace accidents in the kitchen.