by Russell L. Bean, CFSP, Chef Magazine

This post accompanies "On the safe side," (page 18) of the September 2010 issue of Chef Magazine.

Workplace safety is a key management responsibility that requires employee training and consistent enforcement; plus adequate safety equipment, systems and supplies. Here are the top four safety issues, as well as some workplace solutions.

SAFETY ISSUE: Slips and falls
Management and procedural solutions
  • Specify slip-resistant kitchen floor materials in new construction
  • Require prompt cleanup of all food spills and water
  • Police clutter, trip hazards and general housekeeping
Safety support equipment
  • Provide nonskid floor mats (pictured, right: Shoes for Crews MightyMat Classic)
  • Provide nonskid footwear
  • Provide wet-floor warning cones/signs
  • Provide sturdy, stable ladders

SAFETY ISSUE: Lifting injuries
Management and procedural solutions
  • Train employees on proper lifting
  • Limit case-pack weight or break case-packs when received
  • Store heavy cases on middle shelves, not top or bottom
Safety support equipment
  • Provide hand carts and dollies (pictured, right: Rubbermaid Commercial Products Convertible Utility Cart)
  • Specify or order equipment and work tables with casters

Management and procedural solutions
  • Train employees in proper fryer operation and used oil handling
  • Train employees on safe range, broiler, griddle and oven operation
  • Use caution when opening steamer or combi doors and pot lids
  • Allow equipment to cool before cleaning or servicing
Safety support equipment
  • Provide oven mitts with arm protection
  • Provide fryer hot oil handling equipment (pictured, right: Worcester Industrial Products Shortening Shuttle Economy Series)

Management and procedural solutions
  • Train employees in proper knife-cutting techniques
  • Instruct employees in proper slicing equipment use; never remove guards
  • Ensure knives and slicer blades are sharpened
  • Purchase precut or sliced product
Safety support equipment
  • Provide cut-resistant gloves
  • Provide a knife sharpener (pictured, right: Chef'sChoice Commercial Diamond Hone Knife Sharpener model 2100)
Now starting its 39th session, Conquering Homelessness through Employment in Food Services (CHEFS) is a 12-month cooking program created by Episcopal Community Services (ECS) in San Francisco to make homeless people employable in the foodservice industry. Eighty percent of CHEFS graduates acquire a job and a place to live, according to ECS.

The program includes classroom instruction, kitchen training in institutional and restaurant settings, job counseling and placement with coaching and follow-up. With the help of guest instructors representing San Francisco's best in foodservice, students learn standard cooking methods, food safety and sanitation, kitchen equipment, nutrition, meal planning, stock and sauce preparation and ethnic cooking methods. Guest instructors include Michael Kapash of LarkCreekSteak, Nancy Kux of Bakers Dozen, David Lawrence of 1300 on Fillmore, Dan Scherotter of Palio d'Asti, Eric Tucker of Millennium Restaurant and Rob Zaborny of Hayes Street Grill.

During their training, CHEFS students get hands-on experience through internships at restaurants such as Daffodil, Coi Restaurant, Nopa, Roots Restaurant at The Orchard Garden Hotel, Luques and Zingari Ristorante.

For more information, visit