Episode 35 – Restaurant Safety


Toolbox Topic: Restaurant Safety

To stay safe while working in a modern restaurant, you should be aware of some of the most common hazards: sharp knives, hot surfaces, and heavy objects. In today’s episode, we will cover all these hazards and more.



A restaurant is a business that prepares and serves food for the public. Meals are generally served and eaten on the premises, but some restaurants offer take-out and delivery.


History of Restaurants

Public eating establishments have been around for thousands of years. In ancient Greece and Rome, citizens that lacked kitchens in their homes frequently ate at public places that served food and drinks.


The Romans had wine bars called popinae, which offered a variety of wines as well as some simple foods, including olives, bread, cheese, and porridge. Popinae were inexpensive places where the lower classes could socialize.


Around 1100 A.D., Restaurants started appearing in some of China’s major cities. Some of these cities had populations of more than 1 million residents. You could find a variety of restaurants that would rival some of our modern metropolitan areas today. These restaurants were located in districts where businesspeople and travelers could find entertainment, complete with hotels, bars, and even brothels.


A restaurant culture emerged in Japan in the 16th century, beginning with local tea houses. These establishments quickly expanded to offer multi-course meals and specialty dishes.


In Europe, inns which offered food and lodgings were common from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance. These establishments served various dishes such as sausage, shepherd’s pie, puddings, and fish.


France has a rich history of culinary development. As far back as the thirteenth century, French inns served an array of food—bread, cheese, bacon, roasts, soups, and stews—usually eaten at a communal table. Fast forward to the late 18th century, and the French tradition would evolve into restaurants much like the ones we know today.



In 2019, restaurants had 93,800 nonfatal injuries. Over 8000 of them were cuts or lacerations. In total, one-third of all injuries resulted in lost time.


Safety Tips

Safety Tip # 1 Avoiding Lacerations

To prevent knife injuries, always use a cutting board and cut away from your body. Always store knives in a designated place. Never leave sharp knives soaking in a sink full of water. Never pick up broken glass; sweep up glass using a broom and dustpan, then pick up slivers with a wet paper towel. Make sure to treat all cuts immediately to avoid infection.


Safety Tip #2 Slip, Trip, and Fall Hazards

Use anti-slip mats in the kitchen and other areas where water may be present. Utilize wet floor signs when and where needed. Check for water accumulation in coolers and freezers. Keep walkways clear and wear non-skid, slip-resistant shoes.


Safety Tip #3 Cleanliness

Keep the kitchen clean and organized. Regularly clean up spills, wipe down surfaces, and keep areas organized to help prevent accidents and make the kitchen a safer place to work.


Safety Tip #4 Machines & Guarding

Use EXTRA caution when using slicers. Ensure guards are properly installed and never remove guards. Defective or malfunctioning equipment must be tagged “out of service.”


Safety Tip #5 Burns

When using hot surfaces, such as the stovetop or oven, use oven mitts or potholders to protect your hands from burns. Always wear gloves/mittens when handling hot objects. Be careful opening steamers. Allow cooking equipment to cool down before cleaning. Always communicate the transfer of hot objects.


Safety Tip #6 Ergonomics / Lifting Safety

Avoid stooping, bending, and twisting while carrying a load. When lifting heavy objects, be sure to use proper lifting techniques to avoid straining your back. If you twist while lifting, it will increase the risk of injury. Always bend your knees and lift with your legs. If a load is too heavy, separate it into smaller loads or ask for assistance.


Safety Tip #7 Emergencies

Know the locations of exits. Ensure exit doors are not blocked. Know the location of the nearest fire extinguisher. Report all workplace injuries immediately.


Safety Tip #8 Fire Safety

Finally, it is essential to have a K-type fire extinguisher in the kitchen. If a grease fire starts, do not try to put it out with water or an ABC fire extinguisher. Instead, use the K-type fire extinguisher or pull the emergency manual pull station on the fixed extinguishing system. In either case, anyone who attempts to extinguish a fire must receive proper training.






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