The average kitchen is filled with potential hazards. While we all use a variety of kitchen utensils and other similar equipment at home, some people work in a professional kitchen – perhaps as a chef, a kitchen assistant or fulfilling some other important role. In this setting, people are not just occasionally going into the kitchen to prepare a meal. They are working there all the time.
This means there could be a greater chance of being injured while at work if proper steps are not taken to protect every employee. Even mild injuries caused by kitchen utensils can lead to a day or two off work. Since some 4.7 million working days were lost because of injuries from 2014/15, it makes sense to try and avoid as many injuries as we can.
Kitchen utensils that are more dangerous than others
How many did you think of when you read the title to this article? Here are some of the most dangerous utensils you might encounter if you work in a kitchen environment:
- Meat cleavers and slicers
- Kitchen scissors
We could include other items on this list as well, but since the above five are commonly used in many professional kitchens, they have the potential to cause some nasty injuries. Safe use of knives in any kitchen is very important, because the employer must ensure their employees are not at risk of being cut while using them. Proper training can ensure employees know how to use knives safely, and how to reduce the chances of receiving an injury from using one.
Preventing injuries at work means fewer working days are lost
Did you know the cost of injuries, not to mention poor health, among workers in general between 2014/15 were estimated to cost around £14.1 billion? This is a general figure, but working in kitchens does expose the worker to more potential hazards than would be the case in an office, for example.
Indeed, the food services industry sees around 2,560 employees out of every 100,000 receiving an injury each year. This is statistically higher than the average figure for many other industries. We’ve mentioned the importance of proper training already, but this does not merely apply regarding the safe use of knives. It can also apply to using all kitchen utensils. Improper use of graters can easily lead to someone cutting chunks out of their fingers, for example. Scissors must be sharp to cut properly, especially since some are designed to cut through bones when preparing meat and poultry to be cooked. No one wants to lose a finger while working, and thankfully, this is rare, but it can happen if proper health and safety methods are not followed.
Avoiding handling injuries
Handling injuries is a term given to injuries caused while performing certain tasks at work that require people to handle things – for example, to lift or carry things. But it can also apply to injuries caused by trapping fingers or cutting one or more fingers or thumbs on something sharp. In 2013/14, 24% of all reported injuries under the RIDDOR rules were categorised as handling injuries.
Knowing how to handle and use all kitchen utensils, whether they are manually used or require a power supply (as would be the case with electric knives or carvers, for example) is very important. Avoiding an injury is always better than sustaining one. If you work in a kitchen environment, your employer should have provided ample training before you first started work. Additionally, ongoing training should be provided to ensure you are still doing the right things and you know how to be alert to potential dangers in the kitchen.
The loss of a digit
Thankfully, most injuries that do occur in professional kitchens are minor. However, some can be more serious. You can see from our list of the five most dangerous kitchen utensils that three of them could easily lead to the loss of a finger – knives, meat cleavers and scissors. In some instances, people may be able to have a severed digit reattached, but even then, they may lose some sensation in it and be left with a scar – not to mention memories of what happened.
Our list above also includes blowtorches. These are used to sear meat and to melt sugar to finish off a crème brulée, for example. They can also lead to severe burns if they are not used with safety in mind. Anyone using one should know how to use it safely, and how to protect themselves and others around them.
Is it possible to claim anything in compensation for your kitchen injuries?
We’ve seen that the food services industry has a higher than average incidence of injuries when compared to some other industries, such as the information and communication industry, for example. Even if you know how to work safely, there’s still the potential for you to suffer an injury that wasn’t your fault. If this rings true for you, maybe someone else was to blame for what happened. So, whatever injury you have and however serious it was, call us today to see whether you might claim. Our solicitors always provide support on a no win no fee basis, so you’re never at risk if you do decide to take us up on our services. Make that call today.
We now know that various kitchen utensils can be very dangerous indeed if proper care isn’t taken to use and store them in a safe manner. If you have been injured while using one of these utensils at work, you should consider speaking with someone at Accident Advice Helpline. We’ve seen how some of the above statistics translate into real cases that affect real people.