The restaurant industry can be a dangerous place, especially for waitstaff, bussers, chefs, and hosts.
Working in a restaurant means a lot of time on your feet paired with a lot of standing around and heavy lifting. On top of all that, carrying cumbersome and heavy trays through narrow walkways commonly leads to falls, collisions, sprains, and muscle tears. Staying healthy and safe is paramount in the workplace, so let’s dive into the dangers of restaurant work along with some tips and tricks of how to avoid them.
When it comes to being a professional chef or cook, there is a whole host of different and dangerous demands. From the obvious risks of burns and cuts to the issues of slips, and splashes, a bustling kitchen is never the safest place to be. However, there are tons of measures including protective gear and practical workplace guidelines that can make both the wait and kitchen staff so much safer.
Protecting Your Eyes
Outfitting your staff or yourself with the best protective gear can make all the difference in the restaurant world. From the right footwear to eye protection, there’s a lot to think about when dressing for restaurant work. So let’s go through everything you need from head to toe.
In the kitchen there’s a lot to consider when it comes to safety. Starting at the top let’s look at keeping hair and sweat out of your eyes. While a piece like this can seem small, anything that gets in the way of your vision can mean dangerous and painful mistakes. Hair should be kept up and out of the way with things like absorbent headbands and hats. Inner rings for headwear and specialized skull caps can do a lot to keep the heat of the kitchen from making its way into your eyes. Tricks like these are great for waitstaff as well, keeping hair out of your eyes and away from the food is incredibly important.
Working our way down, there is a lot of danger for your eyes in the kitchen. From grease splashes to flying chopped pieces, safety glasses or goggles can keep those eyes safe and vision clear for the complicated work of cooking. This becomes especially important when you’re a chef with an eye prescription. Wearing contacts can enhance your range of sight but it does mean your eyes will be more sensitive to steam, smoke, and grease in the air. However glasses can make it difficult to wear safety glasses as well.
Keeping Your Body and Limbs Safe
In the kitchen, searing grease is a huge issue, wearing long sleeves and long pants is a great first step to protecting sensitive skin. From there rubber-lined aprons can do a lot to prevent splash burns. For waitstaff coming in and out of the kitchen long pants are also a great choice. As we talk about splashes and spills, it’s important to look at foot and legwear for burn protection, fall protection, and even muscle protection.
For wait staff, kitchen staff, hosts, and bussers, wearing compression socks can help you avoid circulation and muscle injuries. Standing all day is very demanding on your leg, ankle, and foot muscles so bracing them with compression socks can do a lot for heart and muscle health. They can also help prevent common muscle and fall injuries from ankle sprains to pulled muscles after running around and carrying heavy trays. Also for preventing fall injuries, anti-slip closed-toe shoes are imperative in the kitchen as well as in the house to cut down on ankle and leg injuries. Taking that even further, non-slip matts in the kitchen can be incredibly effective for combatting slip and fall risk.
Now there’s just one area of common injury left, the hands. Gloves, gloves, and more specialized gloves. Thick dishwashing gloves protect hands from chemical damage as well as hot water burns. Then there are heat gloves to protect from food coming out of the oven and sometimes even from hot plates. Next there are cut-resistant gloves for cutting, chopping, and even transporting pans and slicers with sharp edges. Lastly, cold gloves. Touching frozen surfaces in the walk-in freezer can tear skin and make it more susceptible to cuts and bruises.
There’s a lot to worry about when working in a restaurant. No matter your station, there are real risks to your body and overall health. Taking all these precautions can seem costly or dramatic, but the loss of work from injury as well as the sometimes permanent damage you can incur mean it’s absolutely worth it. Wearing things like specialized gloves and shoes, compression socks, aprons, and hats can go a long way toward avoiding and preventing serious issues. Even eyewear and floor mats can make a huge difference. Don’t hesitate when it comes to your or your employee’s health and safety.