Injury Prevention


Common injuries in restaurants and kitchens are strains, sprains, bruises, and fractures caused by slips, falls, and overexertion in lifting, bending, reaching, or twisting.


Preventing Slips/Falls


  • Wear shoes with slip-resistant soles and make sure laces are tied.
  • Keep floors dry and free from water or grease, and clean floors regularly.
  • Use non-slip floor coverings in areas where floors may periodically become wet.
  • Ensure carpets, mats, etc. are in good condition and free of bumps or holes.
  • Replace burned-out bulbs immediately and improve areas with poor lighting.
  • Keep work areas and floors free of clutter and trip hazards.
  • When using stepladders, use those with slip-resistant feet and always set ladder securely on a flat surface.


Preventing Overexertion Injuries (Sprains, Strains, Overextension, etc.)


  • Train employees in proper work procedures, including lifting techniques.
  • Keep heavy items off floors and at torso height to limit lifting exertion.
  • Keep carts or dollies handy to help with heavier loads.
  • Provide tools and utensils with large rounded grips, and proper knives for the task at hand.
  • Store frequently used items at torso height to limit bending and reaching.
  • Keep work surfaces near waist height for more forceful tasks such as chopping, etc., and provide a work surface near elbow height for detailed, finer tasks.
  • Cover floors near work stations with anti-fatigue matting.
  • Instruct wait staff to move around tables when serving instead of bending over, and use additional wait staff to serve larger parties.
  • Bus staff should take care not to overload their trays/bins, and keep the load as close to the body as possible when carrying.
  • Carry large tray loads using both hands plus a shoulder for extra support and balance.
  • Bar staff and dishwashers should turn their bodies with their feet to point toward their work instead of twisting at the waist.


Burn and scald injuries can result from contact with hot surfaces, steam, spilled hot beverages, splattering oil, etc.


Preventing Burns and Scalds


  • Turn off hot cooking surfaces when not in use.
  • Keep cookware handles away from hot burners and ensure they do not protrude from the cooking area.
  • Use oven mitts, gloves, etc. when handling hot cookware.
  • Open lids carefully to allow steam to escape.
  • Do not overfill cookware, reach over boiling liquids, or open cookers while they are under pressure.
  • Do not drop items into hot oil – use provided baskets.
  • Ensure hot oil/grease is thoroughly cooled before handling/disposing.


Lacerations and punctures are also a common injury in kitchens, resulting from knives, food slicers, and other equipment with sharp edges such as blenders.


Preventing Lacerations and Puncture Wounds


  • Always cut AWAY from the body, and never hold items in hands while slicing.
  • Ensure the correct knife for the job is being used:

         - Carving knives for large cutting tasks

         - Boning knives for meat de-boning

         - Paring knives for small cutting tasks, etc.

  • Keep blades sharp and tighten loose knife handles.
  • Wear well-fitting, appropriate gloves.
  • Ensure all safety guards and devices are in place on sharp equipment.
  • Discard broken or chipped dishes, glassware, etc.
  • Always unplug equipment prior to cleaning, maintenance, or repairs.




Washington State Department of Labor & Industries: