HR Corner: Safety in the Kitchen and on the Job


Safety in the Kitchen and on the Job

When accidents happen in the kitchen, a first-aid kit can really save the day. As a business owner, operator or manager, it is important to know the contents of a first-aid kit and the procedures that accompany what’s inside. Having an understanding of safety and basic first aid is extremely important, especially because it can pertain to you, a staff member or even a customer.


Before learning about or understanding the elements that make up a first-aid kit, the American Red Cross suggests that the first step to first-aid safety is to actually acquire and/or locate the first-aid kit. If you do not have one, a “Preparedness Backpack” is available for businesses on its Web site, The American Red Cross offers many points of advice and training when it comes to informing those in the workplace about first aid. Because the contents of a first-aid kit can vary, be sure to consider any special circumstances you might encounter. A kit kept in a restaurant kitchen will want to include extra burn relief gels and eyewash solutions. If your kit is kept in an office area, bandages and over-the-counter pain medication might be more useful.

When it comes to safety, one way to be sure your employees are receiving the highest quality information and training available to help prevent injuries, illnesses and fatalities in the workplace is through proper training, as offered by the American Red Cross. As a member of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Alliance, this training will include the most important and the most up-todate, first-aid and safety information regarding workplace safety.1 OSHA distributes materials regarding national and state safety laws and guidelines; however, these should be looked upon as baseline requirements and striving to act beyond those guidelines is recommended. While the goal is to not have any serious injuries or illnesses, the food service industry is a fast-paced and sometimes hazardous environment. With sharp knives, hot pans, a variety of equipment and chemicals, it is imperative to understand safety in the workplace and work together to create a productive but safe environment.

ServSafe® programs provide some of the leading safety guidelines in the food industry and useful resources for any type of restaurant, shop or store. It is important to monitor and comprehend the information provided by such an organization to avoid any safety issues within your business. Accidents do happen, and it is important to know the proper steps to take in these sometimes hectic situations. Hypothetically, if an employee cuts his or her finger while cutting fruit, it is important for the employee to understand the first-aid steps which need to take place and to utilize the first-aid kit properly. The severity of the situation should be judged and the decision whether or not to call emergency services should be taken into account when dealing with an employee’s injury; however, emergency services should always be called when any kind of accident occurs with a customer. After following the proper first-aid procedures, ServSafe® guidelines would require that the injury be reported to the shift manager, covered with a bandage and gloves to be worn when working around food or on a food-contact surface.2

The most crucial step in understanding and adhering to first-aid and safety rules is to be informed and to make sure that everyone on staff is aware of the guidelines and procedures. Create and maintain policies for first aid to prevent negligence and abuse. For example, medical gauze should not be used as a Halloween costume. Utilize online and in-person resources such as ServSafe® courses for employees and first-aid training from the American Red Cross. Don’t hesitate to train your employees on first aid. It could mean knowing the difference between grabbing a Band-Aid® from the first-aid kit and grabbing some duct tape and a napkin. While there are a lot of things to decide regarding your business, making the decision to be prepared is never a bad investment.

1 American Red Cross. (2009). Prepare Your Workplace and Employees. Retrieved June 12, 2009, from d8aaecf214c576bf971e4cfe43181aa0/?vgnextoid =a7c51a53f1c37110VgnVCM1000003481a10a RCRD&vgnextfmt=default.
2 NRA Educational Foundation. (2006). ServSafe® Coursebook 4th US Edition. John Wiley & Sons Inc.