As a restaurant owner or manager, it’s crucial to know about the various types of hazards that can put your customers and employees at risk. One type of danger you need to be aware of are physical hazards.
To stay compliant with ServSafe regulations, understanding what counts as a physical hazard is essential. By identifying these risks and taking steps to prevent them from occurring, you’ll create a safer environment for everyone who enters your establishment.
In this article, we’ll explore the top physical hazards found in restaurants and foodservice settings. From slippery floors to sharp objects, there are many potential dangers lurking around every corner. By knowing how to spot these risks, you can work towards minimizing their impact on your business.
“It is better to be cautious than negligent when it comes to identifying and controlling physical hazards in your workplace.”
We’ll also discuss strategies for preventing and mitigating physical hazards in your restaurant. This includes tips for training employees, staying up-to-date on safety standards, and implementing best practices for risk management.
By reading this article, you’ll have a better understanding of which hazards pose the greatest threats to your business and how to take action to protect your patrons and staff. So let’s dive in and discover the top physical hazards in ServSafe!
Broken Glass and Metal Pieces
Physical hazards in the workplace are a serious concern. One common physical hazard that can cause injury is broken glass and metal pieces. These objects can easily cut skin or puncture footwear, causing harm to workers.
Proper Disposal of Sharp Objects
The proper disposal of sharp objects is essential to prevent accidents in the workplace. All sharp items, including broken glass and metal pieces, should be disposed of in designated containers specifically designed for this purpose. The containers must be labeled “Sharp Objects Only” to ensure that all employees understand what type of waste belongs in those bins.
It is crucial to dispose of these objects properly to avoid injuries to both employees and those who handle your company’s garbage. Improperly disposed-of blades and pointy items can protrude through trash bags, exposing anyone who handles the bag to potential dangers while also posing a risk to sanitation personnel. Mishandling or throwing away hazardous materials can put environmental health at risk: business owners can incur liability if they do not identify and correctly eliminate harmful substances.
Wearing Protective Gloves and Footwear
All workers who may come into contact with broken glass or other sharp objects must wear protective gloves and footwear. Strive to dress appropriately for every activity happening around you at work. Keeping on personal protective gear reduces the chance of suffering an accident or contracting any illness in situations where there might be dangerous disturbances.
Gloves made from cut-resistant materials such as Kevlar offer the best protection against cuts from broken glass or metal pieces. Closed-toe shoes made from sturdy materials like leather or steel-toed options offer the necessary protection against fallen nails, shards, and debris which could hurt your feet. Your eyes and nose must also be protected when dealing with chemicals; never hesitate to wear safety goggles, dust masks or respiratory protection where necessary.
Cleaning and Maintaining Work Areas to Prevent Accidents
Maintain clutter-free work areas by performing periodic cleaning using dedicated procedures that outline the safe use of cleaning agents (preferably green cleaning solutions) to ensure continued employee welfare. Organisation within your working area will keep sharp objects away from harm’s way, making it easier for everyone to avoid dangerous situations associated with physical hazards in the workplace.
Another essential aspect of maintaining a clean environment is quickly wiping up spills when they occur – especially those involving liquids such as oil, grease, or floor-cleaning chemicals. Wiping out water and other spilled liquids minimizes slip-and-fall accidents at work and ensures seamless operations without any setbacks.
“A good worker is someone who utilizes his analytical abilities before acting upon a task” – Mohammad El-Sabawi
Broken glass and metal pieces are physical hazards ServSafe professionals should always be wary of. The importance of following proper disposal guidelines cannot be emphasized enough, nor can wearing personal protective gear and keeping your workspace organized and regularly cleaned. Your company is responsible for offering a safe and secure work environment free from hazardous components.
Sharp Objects like Knives and Blades
Knives, blades, and other sharp objects are commonly used in foodservice establishments. These tools help us cut vegetables, meats, fruits, bread, and many more. However, they also pose a physical hazard to the workers if not handled properly. A physical hazard is anything that can hurt or harm the body through impact, puncture, cut, or electrical shock.
The ServSafe program identifies knives and blades as one of the most crucial physical hazards in food handling and preparation. As a result, it mandates proper training, handling, and maintenance procedures for the workers who use these tools daily.
Proper Handling and Storage of Knives and Blades
The first rule of knife handling and storage is always keeping them clean and dry. Rusty and dirty knives not only threaten your safety but can also contaminate the food you prepare. So, after every use, wash them with hot water and soap, then dry immediately using a clean towel.
In addition to cleanliness, here are some other rules governing the safer handling and storage of knives:
- Store knives in a designated rack, sheath, or block that provides blade protection
- Avoid putting knives in pockets, aprons, or drawers where they can easily cause an accident.
- Cut on clean, stable surfaces such as cutting boards and avoid wobbly tables or trays.
- Use sharpened knives instead of dull ones – dull knives require more force to cut, increasing the risk of accidents
- Avoid passing knives carelessly or leaving them unattended on workstations or kitchen countertops.
“The most dangerous tool in any kitchen isn’t the stove, the grill or even the fryer. It’s the knife in an untrained hand.” – Chef Jennifer Hill Booker
Regular Sharpening and Maintenance of Cutting Tools
A dull knife is not only frustrating to use but also dangerous because it requires more force and pressure to cut through food leading to accidents. The good news? You can avoid such scenarios by maintaining a regular sharpening schedule.
ServSafe recommends getting your knives and blades sharpened at least once every month if you are using them regularly, provided this will depend on your frequency of use. In addition to keeping them sharp and efficient in cutting veggies or meats, regular maintenance helps prolong their lifespan.
Maintenance is another crucial aspect of caring for sharp objects like knives and blades. Here are some tips:
- Store the tools separately-avoid clumping all the cutting tools inside one container
- Clean and sanitize the handles after every use —bacteria love warm moist environments
- Tightening screws – check if the bolts holding your knife handle together fastened well
- Inspecting regularly – Review the blade, tip, sheath, handle, and other parts of the tool and replace any worn-out part immediately
“It’s important to keep your blades razor-sharp for precision cuts that make cooking faster, more enjoyable, and smoother.” -Chef Franklin BeckerIn conclusion, sharp objects like knives and blades are both helpful and hazardous when used improperly. Trying to work with a dull knife increases the chances of being injured. Therefore, it’s essential to follow proper handling procedures, store them appropriately, and maintain them regularly to reduce the risk of physical harm during food preparation.
Slippery Floors and Uneven Surfaces
The ServSafe program is a food safety training and certification program that educates food handlers on the best practices to ensure food safety. One of the physical hazards that ServSafe identifies in its curriculum is slippery floors and uneven surfaces.
According to the National Safety Council, slips, trips, and falls account for nearly 9 million emergency room visits each year. Whether it’s a spill on the floor or an uneven walkway, failing to address these hazards can lead to serious injuries and costly lawsuits. Here are some tips to prevent slip-and-fall accidents in your workplace:
Regular Cleaning and Maintenance of Floors
A clean and well-maintained floor is essential for preventing slip-and-fall accidents. Regularly cleaning your floors with appropriate cleaning products can remove grease, dirt, and other contaminants that contribute to a slippery surface. It’s also important to check for any cracks, holes, or uneven areas in your flooring and repair them as soon as possible. By addressing these issues promptly, you can reduce the risk of someone tripping or falling on your premises.
Using Slip-Resistant Footwear and Mats
Another way to prevent slip-and-falls is to provide employees with slip-resistant footwear and mats. Slip-resistant footwear is designed to provide better traction on wet or oily surfaces, which reduces the risk of slipping. Mats with slip-resistant backing can also help to absorb moisture and prevent slips. These types of precautions are especially important in kitchens and other areas where spills are frequent.
Proper Signage and Warning Labels for Wet or Uneven Surfaces
Even with regular cleaning and maintenance, there may be times when a surface is wet or uneven due to weather conditions or equipment malfunctions. In these situations, it’s important to provide proper signage and warning labels to alert employees and customers of the hazard. Signs should be placed in visible locations near the affected areas so that individuals can take caution when walking in these areas.
- “Wet floor” signs should be used whenever there is moisture on a surface due to cleaning or spills.
- For uneven surfaces such as stairs or walkways, use “caution” signs and bright-colored tape to mark the uneven area or steps.
Slips, trips, and falls are a major contributor to workplace injuries and costly lawsuits. However, by implementing and following these preventive measures, you can reduce the likelihood of accidents occurring in your workplace. Remember to clean and maintain your floors regularly, provide slip-resistant footwear and mats, and use proper signage and warning labels for wet or uneven surfaces.
Electrical Wires and Outlets
As a serious physical hazard Servsafe, electrical wires and outlets must be handled with care to prevent injuries in the workplace. Faulty wiring is one of the leading causes of fires in commercial kitchens and restaurants. To avoid this danger, it’s essential to make sure that all electrical appliances are in good condition and properly maintained.
Proper Use and Maintenance of Electrical Equipment
To ensure safe working conditions in your restaurant kitchen, you should use only certified equipment when it comes to power sources. Additionally, follow these guidelines to reduce the risk of electrical hazards:
- Never operate any appliance with wet hands or when standing on a damp floor.
- Remove defective appliances from service immediately.
- Maintain cords and electric tools properly, and replace them if they are damaged.
- Avoid using extension cords as permanent connections.
- Use ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection for receptacles located near water sources such as sinks or dishwashers.
“It is vital that employers take appropriate steps to help protect their employees from electrical hazards.” -Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
Avoiding Overloading Outlets and Circuits
Overloading circuits could significantly increase the chances of an electrical fire starting in the workplace. Be mindful of how many devices are plugged into each circuit outlet and pay attention to the following tips:
- Do not plug more than once device into a single outlet if possible.
- Avoid plugging large appliances like refrigerators into overloaded circuits.
- Routine inspection is necessary for cost and safety reasons. Check that all outlets are secure.
- Utilize a network of multiple circuits rather than relying on one or two main circuits for the kitchen’s operation.
“Make sure to avoid overloading electrical circuits by reducing the amount of equipment plugged into each circuit.” -National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
Electricity can be very dangerous when improperly used around the restaurant workplace. Electrical contracting companies such as DH Glowire Electric provide installation services for professional kitchens, which include working with knowledgeable professionals who will understand your unique needs and help you create solutions guaranteed to meet them. By following these guidelines, chefs and other food industry employees can have a safe environment to prepare and serve tasty meals while remaining hazard-free.
High-Temperature Equipment and Hot Liquids
Which is a physical hazard Servsafe? High-temperature equipment and hot liquids can cause burns, scalds, fires, explosions, and other injuries. Proper handling, storage, maintenance, and inspection of these hazards are crucial to prevent accidents in the workplace.
Wearing Protective Clothing and Equipment
One of the most critical safety measures for high-temperature equipment and hot liquids is wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). According to OSHA, PPE includes gloves, aprons, faceshields or goggles, respiratory protection, and other clothing, which can protect workers from thermal burns from contact with hot surfaces and materials. The type of PPE depends on the degree of heat, exposure time, and working conditions. For instance, welding requires thicker gloves than baking. Workers should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and replace damaged or worn-out PPE regularly.
“Hot liquids burn like fire.” -Darlene Nelson
Besides PPE, workers should also avoid wearing loose clothing, jewelry, or accessories that could catch in machinery or reach flames. Long hair should be tied back, and footwear must have non-slip soles and cover toes. Moreover, workers with sensitive skin or medical conditions such as diabetes or Raynaud’s should consult their physician before working with hot objects.
Proper Handling and Storage of Hot Liquids
To minimize the risk of spills, leaks, and burns, workers need to follow specific protocols when handling and storing hot liquids:
- Use appropriate containers and utensils designed for hot liquids and free of defects, cracks, or damages;
- Use dry potholders or oven mitts to handle hot pots and pans, and avoid wet or damp materials that can conduct heat and cause steam burns;
- Pour hot liquids away from the face, body, or others, and do not overfill containers;
- Store hot liquids in appropriate temperature-controlled areas, such as insulated containers, fridges, or freezers;
- Avoid overcrowding shelves with hot liquids or other materials and keep them away from flammables, explosives, or reactive substances.
If a spill occurs, workers should follow the emergency procedures immediately and report to their supervisor. They may need to isolate the area, use absorbent materials to contain the liquid, and wear PPE to clean it up cautiously.
Regular Maintenance and Inspection of High-Temperature Equipment
In addition to safe handling and storage practices, high-temperature equipment requires regular maintenance and inspection to ensure its reliability and safety. The ANSI Z83.11/CSA 1.8 Standard for Gas-Fired Food Service Equipment and UL Standards provide guidelines and requirements for installing, operating, maintaining, and repairing commercial cooking equipment.
The manufacturer’s instructions and the local fire code also specify the frequency and scope of inspections and cleaning procedures, including:
- Inspecting gas piping, connectors, burners, and flame controls for leaks, blockages, corrosion, or improper adjustment;
- Cleaning grease traps, hoods, ducts, and fans for accumulating grease, dust, or debris that could ignite or reduce air circulation;
- Replacing worn-out parts, such as thermocouples, thermostats, pressure regulators, or ignition modules, to prevent faulty operation or gas leaks;
- Tuning up ovens, fryers, grills, or steamers to optimize performance, reduce energy consumption, and prevent overloading circuits;
- Training employees on how to operate and maintain high-temperature equipment safely, recognize warning signs of malfunctions or hazards, and report them promptly to their supervisor.
High-temperature equipment and hot liquids pose several physical hazards in the workplace. By wearing appropriate PPE, following proper handling and storage practices, and conducting regular maintenance and inspections, workers can minimize their risk of injury, property damage, and legal liabilities.
Heavy Objects and Falling Equipment
One of the physical hazards that ServSafe training covers is heavy objects and falling equipment. This can include anything from large bags of flour to cooking utensils to even chemical containers.
It is important to always use proper lifting techniques when handling heavy items. This will not only prevent injuries but also ensure that the item is being lifted in a way that won’t cause damage or spills.
Proper Lifting Techniques
Proper lifting techniques involve using your legs instead of your back muscles. When picking up a heavy object, stand close to it with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down by bending your knees while keeping your back straight, then grip the object firmly with both hands before standing up slowly.
If you need to carry a heavy object for an extended period, make sure to hold it close to your body and avoid twisting your torso. Also, try to take breaks every 20-30 minutes and switch arms or sides if possible.
“The biggest mistake people make when they lift something heavy is to bend over and pick it up with their back muscles.” -Dr. Michael Gleiber
Securing Equipment and Objects to Prevent Falls
In addition to proper lifting techniques, securing equipment and objects properly can help prevent falls and accidents. This includes making sure all shelves and cabinets are stable and anchored to walls, as well as placing heavier objects on lower shelves.
Equipment such as mixers or food processors should also be secured to countertops or floors to prevent them from tipping or sliding. If working on a ladder, securely fasten tools and materials to your belt or pouch rather than carrying them in your hands.
“Falls from ladders account for nearly one-third of all fall-related injuries in restaurants and foodservice establishments.” -Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
By following proper lifting techniques and securing equipment and objects, you can reduce the risk of physical hazards in your workplace. It is important to always remain aware of potential dangers and take steps to prevent accidents before they happen.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are examples of physical hazards in a restaurant?
Physical hazards in a restaurant include slippery floors, sharp utensils, broken glass, electrical hazards, and heavy lifting. Burns from hot surfaces, steam, and hot liquids also pose a physical risk.
How can physical hazards be prevented in a food service establishment?
Physical hazards can be prevented by implementing safety protocols such as regular equipment maintenance, proper training on handling equipment and tools, using non-slip mats on floors, wearing appropriate footwear, and posting safety signs. Regularly checking for potential hazards and reporting them to management can also help prevent accidents.
What are the consequences of not properly addressing physical hazards in a restaurant?
The consequences of not properly addressing physical hazards in a restaurant can be severe. Employees can suffer injuries or even death, resulting in workers’ compensation claims, lawsuits, and damage to the restaurant’s reputation. It can also lead to fines and legal penalties if the restaurant is found to be in violation of safety regulations.
What is the ServSafe definition of a physical hazard?
The ServSafe definition of a physical hazard is any object or substance that can cause injury or harm to a person, such as broken glass or contaminated food. It also includes hazards related to equipment, such as malfunctioning machinery or electrical hazards.
What should employees do if they encounter a physical hazard in the workplace?
If an employee encounters a physical hazard in the workplace, they should immediately report it to their supervisor or manager. They should also take steps to ensure their own safety and the safety of others, such as blocking off the area or putting up warning signs.
How often should a restaurant conduct a hazard assessment to identify and address physical hazards?
A restaurant should conduct a hazard assessment at least once a year to identify and address physical hazards. However, assessments should also be conducted whenever new equipment is introduced or if there are any changes to the layout or operation of the restaurant that could affect safety.