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Safety Tips for New Restaurant Cooks

If you are starting out as a cook for a restaurant, you're about to gain some of life's most important skills through the culinary arts.

However, you'll soon find that over the heat the stove and under the pressure of mealtimes, it can be dangerous to tend to all of your responsibilities seemingly at once while avoiding slips, cuts, burns, and collisions with other employees. Here are a few of the basic safety tips to help you stay cautious.

Always say "behind"

This is scripture if you want to survive in the culinary industry. It's not uncommon for those who are new to the kitchen to either be forgetful or self-conscious about alerting their presences by yelling out, "Behind!" But, failing to do this or speaking too quietly can result in the loss of product and dangerous injuries.

You can also alert those around your of other dangers by yelling out other descriptors, such as "Hot!" or "Sharp!"

Invest in clogs

To work in a kitchen effectively, you'll need the proper protective footwear. For cooks, clogs are the go-to. The best clogs are slip-resistant with moisture absorbent soles to keep your feet upright and dry as you scurry about a kitchen floor that's bound to collect food waste. Other alternatives may include non-slip sneakers. However, remember that a loose lace could be very dangerous.

Keep a towel nearby

In the kitchen, a small dish towel may even be used as often as a knife. Not only can you quickly wipe off spills from surfaces you're using, but you're also likely to use a towel for pulling hot trays from the oven or handling other hot surfaces - which there are plenty of.

If you get a second-degree burn that includes white blotching and is more than three inches in diameter on the face, head, hands, feet or a major joint, you may need to leave work to seek medical attention.

Handle your knife properly

Properly looking after your knives means keeping them razor sharp. The sharper the knife, the less force you need to use in your fingers, wrists, forearms, elbows, shoulders, and back. Excess force on a cook performing manual labor all day can increase fatigue and soreness, which may lead to serious injuries.

You should also ensure that you are using the correct knife for the task and are applying the proper technique for holding and using it.

Seek medical attention for a cut if:

  • Deep body structures are visible from the wound, such as muscle, bone or fat
  • The cut is a quarter of an inch deep or more
  • The cut is very deep an located on your hand
  • The cut continues to bleed after putting pressure on it for 15 minutes

When to file a workers' compensation claim

If you receive an injury at work that requires medical attention and/or time away from work, filing a workers' compensation claim can help you recover damages for medical treatment and lost wages.

Talk to a workers' compensation lawyer to help with you with an injury claim and ensure that you are compensated for it appropriately.