Cuts and lacerations are the most common type of commercial kitchen injuries. Certainly cutting equipment plays a small part in those injuries, but the lion share of damage is caused by kitchen knives. With all the different types of professional knives in use at any time in busy commercial kitchens, personal safety dictates a call to the following safety guidelines.
Learn how to use your knives.
- Always cut or slice away from your body.
- Keep all fingers clear of the knife blade.
- NEVER cut items in the palm of your hand.
- Know about your knife and how to hold it and what motion it is intended for.
- Use the right knife for the right job.
- Knives are not acceptable can openers.
- Slow down! No meal prep is worth your fingers.
Always care for your knives.
- Make sure your knife blades are sharp at all times. When a knife is not sharp, we tend to want to compensate by using more pressure and that can lead to blade slips.
- Always clean knives immediately after use. Better for the blade & handle and better for the poor dishwashing soul who has no idea a knife may be lurking in the dishwater.
- After cleaning, immediately put into proper storage, like a knife rack or sheath. Knives should not be stored loose in drawers. It is bad for the safety of the persons reaching into the drawer but also bad for keeping knife edges sharp.
Use cutting boards and cut- resistant gloves.
- Steel mesh or Kevlar gloves offer protection from cuts and lacerations.
- Never cut, chop or slice items directly on a table or countertop.
- Always use cutting boards designed to hold its place on the worktop.
- Ensure the surface you put the cutting board on is stable.
- Never cut or slice food items freehand (like over sinks, mixing bowls, etc.)
Take personal responsibility while using a knife and ensure management is implementing best practices.
- Make sure only trained personnel use knives.
- Avoid interruptions while performing knife duties. If unavoidable, set knife down until you can go back to working without distraction.
- When giving a knife to another person, set the knife down on a solid surface and allow the other person to pick it up.
- Do not allow minors to perform knife duties or sharpen knives.
- Avoid touching knife blades.
- We drop knives all the time. DO NOT attempt to catch a falling knife. Make sure your feet/toes are clear and let it fall. The knife should come to a complete stop before you pick it up again.
- When carrying a knife, always point the tip to the floor.
- Never carry a knife and other objects at the same time.
- Horseplay while holding a knife should be met with immediate dismissal.
- NEVER use a kitchen knife to open boxes. That’s what box knives are for.