June 28, 2011
See the feet in the photo? They are the feet of a chef at Mongolie Grill in Whistler, BC, Canada.
He is wearing the Crocs Bistro: Kitchen Chef Work Shoe which is now the standard for all their kitchen staff. The shoes are designed specifically for people in the restaurant, food service, hospitality, and health care industries with non-slip properties that exceed ANSI requirements.
I found out about this non-traditional approach to safety footwear while dining out in Whistler. It was exciting to find this workplace safety tidbit on a weekend away. I took the photos while standing with the rest of the restaurant guests, watching the chefs fry our delicious food on a big, round, open grill.
How to reduce risks of slips in restaurants
Non-slip shoes like these are just one line of defence against slips in a restaurant kitchen. Health and Safety for Hospitality Small Business, a booklet from WorkSafeBC, lists additional preventive measures, including:
• Cleaning floors regularly
• Cleaning up spills immediately
• Keeping floors free of water and grease
• Posting warning signs around spills or wet floors
• Using slip-resistant waxes to polish and treat floors
• Installing non-slip tiling or other non-slip floor products
• Using rubber mats in areas where the floors are constantly wet
Clean up spills and keep floors clean. Wear proper footwear, a poster from WorkSafeBC
Prevention of Slips, Trips and Falls from CCOHS
Kitchen Tip 1: Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls from WorkSafeBC’s StartSafe series
Hospitality Today Article no. 3 “Preventing Slips and Falls” from WorkSafeBC
June 23, 2011
She took precautions and followed protocol, but somehow it still happened.
“I was pricked with a used hypodermic while changing the garbage,” said Heidi, who worked as a barista in downtown Vancouver a few years ago.
“I was wearing sharps-resistant gloves, with a clear garbage bag that I had scanned for sharps, and I held it away from my body. Then the bag swung and bumped against the wall. The needle went into my unprotected knee.”
She said her coworker called an ambulance and “911 told us we needed to bring the needle in order for workers’ comp and insurance to cover the cost of the ambulance and treatment.” The medical history of the person who had used the needle was unknown, so Heidi took an “antiretroviral cocktail for 28 days, hepatitis vaccines, and 12 months of bloodwork.”
“The needle could have been from meds (insulin, or the like) but the area has a high incidence of HIV/AIDS and hep. It was all pretty scary, but fortunately, I’m fine.”
Outspoken about safety
Today Heidi works as a special education assistant and occasionally takes shifts as a waitress in a local restaurant. She says she’s “super anal and outspoken at all of these places, particularly about safety.” She asked me about a WorkSafeBC publication that came out after her incident.
“I was told that a handbook was in the works regarding this type of injury, but I never did see the final product,” she said.
The publication Heidi speaks of is Controlling Exposures: Protecting Workers from Infectious Disease. It points out that while health care workers face greater risk of exposure to infectious diseases, there is also a risk for workers in law enforcement, corrections, dentistry, funeral homes, hospitality, schools, animal hospitals, construction, and food processing.
Another great resource is WorkSafeBC’s Stuck by a needle? poster (pictured above), which can be adapted for individual workplaces. It lists three steps to follow if you are stuck with a needle and includes space at the bottom for filling in the name and address of the nearest hospital. Posting it on the wall is one way to help employees who find themselves in Heidi’s situation.
Employers in BC are required to follow the precautions outlined in Regulation Part 6 Substance Specific Requirements – Biological Agents.
Thanks to Heidi for sharing her story, and please let me know if you have a story of your own: firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 19, 2011
My friend Dave Dawson worked as a line cook at a busy Ottawa restaurant in the late 80s. He and his coworkers ran the kitchen with little to no supervision.
One night a cook asked Dave to do something that seemed pretty sketchy.
“I was told to re-fill a deep fryer that was on,” said Dave. “Usually you’re supposed to use buckets of liquid oil because it gets hot so fast and it goes right in and heats evenly, but they said ‘open that box of lard up and put it in the deep fryer’ so I did.”
At that time, he was a young worker – under 25 – eager to please and not comfortable asking questions. Despite his better judgment, he plopped the 15-pound cube of lard into the deep fryer.
“The piece of lard got stuck at the top and it started to smoke at the sides. We really had to hack at it to make sure it didn’t go all over the place.”
The lard was similar in size to “a small television” and hacking at it didn’t help much. The smoke got thicker, so they tried another approach.
“We got very large pots for cooking sauces – that could hold probably six litres of liquid – and we scooped some of the hot oil out of the other deep fryers and poured it over the huge chunk of lard to try to melt it down.”
Thankfully no one was hurt. People need safety training and orientation in a kitchen, but this didn’t happen at Dave’s old workplace.
“In the kitchen, it would often happen at night that new people would show up. There was no sort of mentor,” said Dave. “There was no supervisor. We had a general manager, who had to manage the waiters and waitresses too, so he was not present very often.”
Hot oil can cause seriou burns and spilled oil cause horrible slipping accidents like this “shockvertising” from the WSIB.
Safety for new and young workers in restaurant kitchens
StartSafe Kitchen Safety – Tip #4: Using deep fat fryers safely, from WorkSafeBC
Health and safety issues for cooks, from OHS Answers by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
Restaurant Safety For Teen Workers, from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), US Dept. of Labor
Stop slips in kitchens, from Britain’s Health and Safety Executive
Virtual Kitchen, from SafeWork South Australia