I just got e-mail from a colleague about an injury trend we’re seeing with our customers that is worth passing on to you. Peter Koch works with our hospitality businesses and has seen a rise in cuts and lacerations during food prep. Eleven injuries to the fingers and hands were reported since the start of August. Most were knife cuts with the most serious laceration happening while cleaning a meat slicer.
How can an employer in the food and beverage industry cut down on cuts?
- Train all new staff on knife skills.
- Review safe work practices with your food prep staff, focusing on knife safety and cut prevention.
- Set performance expectations (i.e., personal protective equipment [PPE], skill level, consistency of cut) for knife users. Remember, anything you expect, you should inspect on a regular basis. Providing feedback on performance is a proven way to change behavior.
Knife Safety Tips
- Keep knives sharp. If your knife is sharp, it will slide easily with little force. If the knife is blunt, you’ll have to force it and will have less control.
- Point away. When you are using a knife, don't cut toward you or your fingers.
- Don't leave sharp knives loose in a drawer. Banging around in a drawer will ruin the sharp edge and can be dangerous to someone reaching into the drawer.
- Don’t catch a dropped knife. If you drop a knife, step back and let it fall—don't try to catch it.
- Don’t put knives in the sink. Wash the knives separately in a designated bin or bucket.
- Consider using cut resistant gloves.
Meat Slicer Safety Tips (from WorkSafe BC)
- Provide written safe work procedures and training for each worker who uses a meat slicer.
- Use guards and glides at all times.
- Secure meat properly in the slicer, and ensure that the slicer is in the proper setting before cutting.
- Never reach across the blade.
- Turn the slicer off after use, setting the calibration back to zero.
- Unplug the slicer before cleaning it.
- Use cut-resistant gloves on both hands while cleaning the blade.
Here are more links on knife safety in the kitchen and hand-specific PPE:
Meat Slicer Safety