With its high volume of employee traffic and the many roles the hotel kitchen operations support, from room service to banqueting and sophisticated restaurant services, safety training and procedures must be well-organized and particularly efficient. HospitalityNet, Mace Bourgeois, shares six easy steps to amplify your safety program quickly.
Kitchens are the most important part of restaurants. All the behind-the-scenes action takes place here. From prepping the ingredients and cooking them to the garnishing, everything happens here. Several dishes are prepared simultaneously, due to which there is constant, pressure and frenzy.
Think about it: every commercial kitchen has a dozen people working in it continuously. The chefs, the waiters, and the helpers are all present together in one place doing different chores. Commercial kitchens are busy places and can become a playground for chaos and hazards if proper safety precautions are not taken.
If you own a hotel or a restaurant, or are planning to open one soon, make sure you invest in safe and well-functioning kitchen equipment.
Here are six easy tips you can follow to keep your commercial kitchen safe.
1. Install an Effective Kitchen Fire Suppression System
With excessive heat, grease and oils around, fires can flare up any time. Kitchen fires, if not curbed properly, can cause destruction to property and human life. Fire and flammable substances will always be present in a kitchen, which can consequently lead to damage. As a hotel/restaurant owner, you need to take appropriate precautions beforehand. How do you do that? Install the best, and most responsive kitchen fire suppression system to prohibit potential danger.
Opt for kitchen fire suppression systems from a company that provides trained technicians to not only install them, but also inspect and service them periodically.
This will prevent much confusion and trouble. Also, with laws becoming more specific regarding commercial kitchen fire suppression systems, it is a good idea to get an effective system from a reliable company.
Besides, more and more restaurateurs are switching to vegetable oil for cooking. Vegetable oil burns hotter than its animal-based counterpart and causes more deadly fires that are difficult to extinguish. Check the fire suppression system’s ratings before buying to ensure your system is equipped to deal with difficult and large fires. The current U.S codes require a UL300 hood extinguishing system, along with a K-rated fire extinguisher.
2. Train Your Staff
Provide adequate kitchen safety training to your staff. They should be trained to handle sharp utensils, kitchen fires, hot cooking equipment, and spills and slippery surfaces. When a new machine is added to the kitchen, the staff using it should be trained to use it properly. Possible dangers around new equipment must always be disclosed.
Instruct your kitchen staff to be cautious in the kitchen and double check things. Also, remind them to keep the cooking-area traffic to a minimum and avoid wearing synthetic clothes to prevent accidents.
If your staff has been provided with safety gear, instruct them to wear it when in the kitchen. Further, make separate space for employees’ food and drinks so that kitchen traffic is curtailed, and unnecessary spills and messes are avoided.
3. Keep the Kitchen Floors Safe
Slip-resistant kitchen floors can prevent a lot of accidents. Keeping your floors safe is a priority. Regular vacuum extraction and use of degreasers are necessary to keep them grease-free.
Degreasers break up the grease and surround individual molecules so it can be easily removed. This is not possible with the regular mop-and-bucket cleaning method. Further, sometimes they smear and spread the grease even while cleaning. This creates risky conditions. Invest in a good quality degreaser to keep your kitchen clean. Make sure your cleaning staff read and understand the degreaser manufacturer’s instructions and take all suggested precautions when using it.
A few other things to remember when using a degreaser include wearing protective eye gear and gloves to stay safe from splashing droplets of hot/hazardous liquid. Also, dilute the leftover degreaser liquid and then pour it down the drain to dispose it off. Keep emergency eyewash handy for employees who handle the degreaser.
Install a high-capacity grease trap to avoid sewer overflows and blockages. Invest in a degreaser and grease interceptor to have safer kitchen floors with better traction and increased slip resistance.
4. Use Deep Fryers Carefully
Deep fryers are often a major cause of kitchen fire. The splashing of hot oil is extremely dangerous in itself. If this oil comes close to, or in contact with an open flame from nearby cooking equipment like a gas fire range, it will cause severe damage in the kitchen. Hence, the industry-recommended 16-inch clearance must be maintained between the deep fryer and open flame cooking equipment. If your kitchen is not that big and a 16-inch clearance is not possible, place a steel barrier vertically that extends at least 8 inches above the deep fryer.
5. Have Your Exhaust Hood Cleaned by Professionals?
Having your kitchen exhaust hood professionally cleaned helps to remove unwanted grease that causes catastrophic fire situations. Additionally, a clean hood system reduces the risk of mechanical failures that create an unsafe and unpleasant work environment.
All commercial cooking operations must meet the standards set forth in NFPA 96: STANDARD FOR VENTILATION CONTROL AND FIRE PROTECTION OF COMMERCIAL COOKING OPERATIONS
Provision covers the design; installation; operation; and inspection, testing, and maintenance of the full spectrum of cooking equipment, hoods, grease removal devices, exhaust duct systems, fans, fire suppression systems, and clearance to combustibles.
Studies have shown that a clean and healthy work environment leads to higher employee morale and productivity. This added benefit is invaluable when considering the hazards found in a commercial kitchen.
Keep your workplace and workforce safe by having your exhaust hood professionally cleaned at the proper intervals. It could turn out to be the best investment you will ever make!
There are multiple reasons why you should get your exhaust hood cleaned by professionals. Cleaning your professional hood helps to rid your kitchen ventilation system of unwanted grease and blockages. This minimizes risk of fire in the kitchen and mechanical failures.
Your exhaust hood should be professionally cleaned so that it meets the NFPA 96A Standards and the insurance requirements. During inspections, a lot of attention is given to your kitchen exhaust system. If your entire kitchen is clean but your exhaust hood is filled with grease and particulates, you will not pass the test.
Besides, a clean exhaust hood leads to higher levels of overall efficiency and cleanliness. You provide a healthier and better environment for your employees. This leads to higher productivity and morale in them where they too feel that the employer cares for our health.
Taking efforts to get your exhaust hood cleaned by professionals is a necessity for a commercial kitchen and can reap you many benefits.
6. Supervise Manual Handling Occasionally
High-end cooking equipment cannot replace or substitute manual handling and involvement in the kitchen. One needs to regularly supervise manual handling operations in the kitchen to ensure that kitchen employees stay safe and don’t get injured.
Workers can be easily injured from lifting heavy objects with improper technique. Lifting heavy objects often cause injuries to workers. Make your kitchen a safer place by providing basic training on safety and health to all of your kitchen employees. Check to see if these guidelines are being followed. Further, you can provide a lifting machine in the kitchen if you have the space and the budget for it. This will prevent workers from lifting heavy loads and suffering muscle injuries.
Kitchen workers must also be repeatedly reminded of the proper ways to handle sharp objects and items made of glass. This can be handled by a shift leader in less than 5 minutes before the start of each shift. A consistent message will greatly reduce the chances of losing a key kitchen employee on a busy or an entire entrée due to broken bits of glass.
The above steps can help you keep your commercial kitchen hazard-free. Additionally, kitchen workers should be provided supplementary protection gear, such as slip-resistant shoes, cut-resistant gloves, and a fully stocked first aid kit nearby.