Previous month:
July 2013
Next month:
September 2013

August 2013

Knife Safety in the Kitchen

Koch Peter 1 Posted by Peter Koch

Every task has the proper tool, and the versatile kitchen knife can cover a broad range of tasks - cutting, slicing, chopping, dicing, mincing, boning, paring, etc...  Experienced chefs will tell you that sharp, good quality knives are critical to the balance of safety, quality, and productivity in the kitchen.  When knives are used incorrectly or stored improperly, that balance is upset and injuries can occur.

Every business with a kitchen component should have a knife use training and approval process that covers safety, skills, storage, cleaning, PPE, and a demonstration of proper technique.  Regardless of who is approved to use the knives, all kitchen staff should follow these tips:

  1. Only use knives for their intended purpose – Using knives for breaking down boxes, opening containers, breaking lid seals, opening bags, separating frozen product will dull, damage, or even break them.  Knives should only be used on the tasks for which they were designed – A 10” chef’s knife should not be used for paring potatoes and a paring knife is not appropriate to chop salad fixings.  Training on which knives are to be used, and for what purpose, must be integrated into the training program and reinforced during safety meetings and performance observations.
  2. Keep them sharp – A dull knife is a dangerous knife.  When a knife doesn’t move easily through the product, the user, especially less experienced ones, respond by increasing pressure.  This results in reduced control of the blade, increasing the potential for a mistake and injury to the user or someone nearby.  Sharpening should be done only by trained and experienced people; it may be more efficient to have an outside service sharpen knifes instead of using a busy chef or warewasher.
  3. Cutting boards are key – Use knives on an approved cutting board, instead of the tiled counter or steel table top, to limit cross contamination and provide a stable surface that does not dull the knife’s edge.
  4. Cut resistant gloves – Inexperience, fatigue, and repetitive tasks increase the potential for injury due to lack of skill, decreased attention over time, and an increase in the sheer number of knife strokes.  Use of cut resistant gloves limits the effect of a mistake, turning a sliced finger and ruined product into a near miss.  Cut resistant glove examples can be found through this link.
  5. Never catch a falling knife – When an object is dropped, the natural reaction is to grab for it.  Trying to catch it just puts you in harm’s way.  The knife can always be washed or re-sharpened.
  6. Cut away – Cutting motions should always be away from your body.  This minimizes the possibility for injury should the product slip or move unexpectedly.
  7. Store knives properly – Knives should never be left unattended.  When not in use knives must be stowed in a proper block or rack to minimize damage to the blade and accidental contact.  After use, dirty knives should be rinsed and placed in a separate basin designated for sharps to be washed by the warewasher.

Knife safety including proper technique and tools, skilled workers, and a solid performance enhancement program can help reduce or eliminate cut injuries in the kitchen.  Remember, ALL knife injuries in the kitchen are PREVENTABLE.

Residential Construction Fall Protection

Koch Peter 1 Posted by Peter Koch

What relevance does an OSHA announcement about Construction in 2010 have in 2013?   Think fall protection. 

According to OSHA falls accounted for 259 out of 738 total deaths in construction for CY 2011 1992 through 2005, fatal falls in construction have only increased, even though in 1995, OSHA provided interim fall protection guidelines for residential construction that allowed contractors to develop non-conventional methods to protect workers from falls.

Given that the construction season is in full swing, the new residential fall protection requirements announced December 16, 2010 which replace the Interim Fall Protection Compliance Guidelines for Residential Construction are being enforced as of March 15, 2013.

Under the requirements, workers engaged in residential construction six feet or more above lower levels are to be protected by “conventional fall protection methods”, such as restraint systems, guardrails, safety nets, personal fall arrest systems (PFAs), or scaffolds.  Fall plans and slide guards (roof brackets) are not considered conventional methods.

The delay between the announcement and enforcement has provided time for employers to conduct training and adopt the new standards.

In order to use unconventional fall protection methods builders must show that OSHA’s standard methods are infeasible or would create a greater hazard than unconventional methods.  When this is the case, the burden of proof falls to the employer who then must provide a written explanation of why the conventional fall protection systems are infeasible or pose a greater hazard.  This must be outlined in a site-specific fall protection plan.

The following are links to the Residential Construction Fall Protection standards and OSHA Q&A:

The bottom line is, unless they can be proved to be infeasible, (Infeasible - impossible to perform the work while using a conventional fall protection system, or that it is technologically impossible to use a conventional system), conventional methods must be used when the worker is or can reasonably be expected to be exposed to a fall hazard of 6ft or more.

Making Road Construction Safe for Everyone

Road construction projects and the summer season seem to run on the same schedule, often to the distress of many of us trying to go about our daily lives. Indeed, billions of dollars and millions of man-hours will be spent on road work in 2013, the bulk of it scheduled for the warmest months of the year.

While traffic delays may be frustrating, drivers must stay alert to the hazards inherent to road construction. “All work zones are dangerous, especially if you’re not paying attention or taking proper precautions,” said Rod Stanley, a Director of Loss Control and Safety for workers’ compensation insurer MEMIC. “Whenever you have workers interrupting the flow of traffic, and who are very near moving vehicles, there’s risk,” he continued, indicating that there are hundreds of fatal crashes in work zones each year.

Road construction is filled with moving parts, between flaggers, surrounding vehicles, and onsite workers. While it’s not possible to control all of these parts around you, you can approach any work zone with confidence by following these guidelines.

  • Be on the lookout for flaggers. Most road construction projects that alter the flow of traffic will use flaggers to direct vehicles safely. Typically located at the shoulder of a work site, flaggers should be easy to spot in their reflective gear. With 20 flaggers killed by motorists each year, though, it’s clear that drivers must be more vigilant about keeping watch for these workers.
  • Put down your cell phone. Mountains of data illustrate the dangers of using a mobile device while driving. Texting while driving, for instance, makes the likelihood of crashing 23 times higher, according to the US Department of Transportation. Circumstances can change at a moment’s notice in a construction zone – don’t compromise your reaction time with cell phone use.
  • Watch your speed. A car driving at 30 miles per hour will likely require over 100 feet to come to a complete stop. Driving more slowly will give you additional time to navigate confusing traffic patterns and react to necessary emergency stops.
  • Maintain a safe distance from workers and other motorists. Transportation incidents account for 40 percent of occupational fatalities in the United States. 70 percent of those are characterized by a motorist hitting a pedestrian worker. By allowing for plenty of space between yourself and others, whether they’re on foot or in a vehicle, you can create a buffer zone for any stops or quick alterations you may have to make.
  • Be courteous. Yes, road construction can be maddening, but flaggers and onsite workers are simply doing their job. Rushing angrily through detours, though, will only increase the likelihood of an accident.

 Road construction is unpredictable. Dangerous situations can seem to pop up out of nowhere. By allowing yourself plenty of space to react and limiting distractions, you can ensure a safer interaction with everyone on the road.