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Kitchen Safety 101: A Guide on Safe and Practical Handling of Restaurant Equipment

Did you know that injuries like cuts, strains, and slips can cost restaurant kitchen staff 30 days of work on average? Workers' slips and falls cut the industry back by almost $200 million in paid losses.

There's no doubt that an unsafe kitchen environment is not only a danger to your staff but can significantly impact your restaurant's efficiency and finances. Fortunately, accidents are avoidable.

Following the proper kitchen safety rules in handling restaurant equipment can reduce injuries and keep your staff protected and productive. Continue reading the infographic below regarding kitchen safety 101, a compact guide on how you can instruct your team to handle common restaurant equipment safely.



Fast Facts and Statistics About Kitchen Safety

According to Am Trust, a restaurant injury can cause a staff member to miss an average of 30 work days. That can have severe consequences if you work with a relatively small kitchen crew.

The financial toll of workplace injuries can also be debilitating. The National Safety Council approximated that work-related injuries cost $163.9 billion in 2020. Injuries involving the head or central nervous system are the costliest, averaging almost $94,000 per claim.

Besides causing physical harm to employees, the kitchen can also be the source of massive structural damage. The U.S. Fire Administration highlights this point by reporting that roughly two out of every five building fires (41%) start in kitchens and cooking areas.

These statistics underscore that restaurateurs should not take kitchen safety lightly. It's in your best interest to instruct your staff on kitchen safety 101 and how to handle common restaurant equipment safely to protect themselves and the business

Safely Handling Common Restaurant Equipment 

It's easy to forget how to practice being safe around kitchen equipment such as ovens and dishwashers, but that's exactly how accidents happen. Brush up on your kitchen safety rules in avoiding risks and handling common restaurant equipment with the dos and don'ts below.


The most considerable risk to kitchen safety of commercial ovens is their capacity to expose your kitchen staff to flames or burns. They can ignite leftover food not properly cleaned out or disposed of following the equipment's usage. Another possible risk is carbon monoxide poisoning, which can happen if your kitchen has an oven and stovetop design.


  • Ensure the pots and pans your staff uses are sturdy and appropriate for commercial ovens.
  • Always keep the oven's drop-down doors closed.
  • Always clean the oven after usage.
  • Wear dry oven mitts when handling hot pots to avoid burns.
  • Monitor the temperature of the pot using an infrared thermometer.


  • Avoid leaving the oven switched on when not in use. Double-check the oven before closing your restaurant at the end of the day. 
  • Do not store plastic items, utensils, or other inappropriate equipment in the oven.

Cooking ranges

The most evident risk of commercial cooking ranges is their open flame, which can quickly burn someone or set fire to nearby items. This type of kitchen equipment also typically runs on gas, which exposes your kitchen to instances of gas leaks and open flames.


  • Kitchen safety rules entail regularly inspecting your restaurant ranges to ensure they're in their best condition and suitable for use. You should also follow maintenance guidelines from your equipment manufacturer, like Charlie's Fixtures. 
  • Always keep the cooking range clean to avoid any leftover food or items from igniting. 
  • Watch the weight of what you place on the range. Smaller and lighter ovens can tip over if kitchen staff place heavy items that exceed their weight limit.
  • Keep restaurant safety equipment on hand, such as fire extinguishers, in case of emergencies.


  • Do not leave an open cooking range unattended. 
  • Avoid holding pots and pans with your bare hands. Instead, keep a pair of oven mitts or pot holders within reach. 
  • Do not keep flammable items near the range. 

Freezers and refrigerators

Freezers and refrigerators may not pose obvious risks to your kitchen environment, but that doesn't mean you don't need to follow kitchen safety rules with them.

A walk-in freezer may accidentally trap your kitchen staff inside. Additionally, since these types of kitchen equipment run 24/7, they can be susceptible to sparking or igniting if they have faulty electrical wiring.


  • Inspect your refrigeration equipment and ice machines often to ensure they're tip-top. Broken refrigeration equipment cools items poorly, spoiling ingredients that cost hundreds or thousands of dollars to restock. 
  • Keep the floor around the refrigeration unit dry to avoid slips and falls.


  • If you have a walk-in refrigerator & freezer, do not let kitchen staff enter without others being aware. That way, they'll always be mindful if the door accidentally closes or the person somehow injures themselves inside. 
  • Do not leave food for too long—how long you can store food before it goes bad varies. For example, salads will typically go bad after 3–4 days, while canned ham can last up to 9 months. Visit the U.S. official food safety website for a table of common foods and how long each can last while refrigerated. 


Operating microwaves requires professional care. Broken microwaves can cause electrical shocks or radiation in the kitchen if any of your staff doesn't follow kitchen safety rules. The microwave can also lead to scalds or burns for those who forget to use mitts when pulling food out.


  • Always follow commercial microwave guidelines, regardless of whether it's light-duty or heavy-duty.
  • Regularly clean the microwave's chamber and doors to keep it free of leftover food, dirt, and grease. 
  • Monitor the microwave while you're using it. Immediately shut it off if you spot sparks or flames.


  • Avoid using non-microwave-safe equipment, such as sealed and plastic containers, while heating food.
  • Do not use microwave ovens with doors that don't close since they can potentially release hazardous radiation into the kitchen.

Deep fryers

Deep fryers are hot equipment that can cause severe burns and scalds if a kitchen staff accidentally comes into contact with them. Their extreme heat is also a kitchen fire hazard.


  • Let the oil cool before using it.
  • The appropriate fat levels and operating temperature may differ depending on the type of commercial deep fryer you have. Train your staff on its operating guidelines to understand how they can handle it safely. 
  • Use aprons, gloves, and other protective equipment while operating the deep fryer. 
  • Regularly clean the fryer with warm, soapy water to remove leftover grease.


  • Refrain from over-filling the containers. Review the operational guidelines of the equipment regarding the manufacturer's recommended limits of the deep fryer. 
  • Do not splash water or hot oil to avoid burning nearby staff. 

Dishwashing equipment

Dishwashing equipment is another kitchen equipment without obvious hazards but has associated kitchen safety rules. Liquid spills can be common around this machine, making it easy for your busy staff to slip and fall when they go near it.

Additionally, kitchen staff who unintentionally use broken dishwashers or too many cleaning chemicals may spread contaminants around the kitchen.


  • Keep the area around the dishwashing equipment dry to avoid slips. 
  • Invest in floor care supplies such as mops and wet floor signs to help you clean the surrounding areas and notify others to be careful.


  • Avoid using more chemicals—detergents and rinsing aid—than needed. Review the equipment guidelines to learn the appropriate chemical levels for cleaning kitchen items. 
  • Don't leave the water tank unchanged for too long. The equipment guidelines should provide a recommended schedule for replacing the water tank.


Your kitchen may have uncommon equipment, such as commercial pasta cookers and rethermalizers, sous vide immersion circulators, and steam cooking equipment. Staff who aren't knowledgeable in operating these may accidentally violate kitchen safety rules and cause harm to themselves or other kitchen staff.


  • Have a hands-on orientation to guide and instruct your restaurant staff on using specialty equipment.
  • Attach safety reminders around the kitchen to help your staff remember how to use certain items.


  • Do not let unauthorized personnel enter the kitchen and use equipment.

Kitchen cutlery

Knives and cutting equipment are kitchen staples that require safe handling. Cuts and lacerations are common for those who don't follow kitchen safety 101. It's also possible for your kitchen staff to unintentionally use contaminated equipment when cutting ingredients, leading to potential health concerns for your customers.


  • Keep kitchen cutlery as sharp as possible using knife sharpening tools. Blunt knives will require chefs to exert more force, increasing the likelihood of accidents. 
  • Ensure each knife undergoes adequate cleaning before use to avoid contaminating meals. 
  • Establish a space in the kitchen where kitchen staff can safely store the knives


  • Avoid using the wrong cutting techniques. Always note the hand and finger positions when cutting to avoid possible injuries.
  • Refrain from looking around while cutting.  
  • Do not cut on countertop surfaces or dirty cutting boards to avoid damaging your equipment or contaminating ingredients. 

The Secret Ingredient to Kitchen Safety is Top-of-the-Line Equipment

Kitchen accidents are unfortunate circumstances that can slow down the pace of your kitchen. From commercial ovens to knives, different types of kitchen equipment require their own kitchen safety rules, dos, and don'ts. You can create a safe environment that protects your staff and boosts kitchen efficiency by following safety rules.

A large part of practicing kitchen safety is regularly inspecting your equipment before using it. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, the second leading cause of restaurant fires is electrical malfunctions in the equipment. Outdated or faulty equipment which runs 24/7, such as refrigerators, can damage your kitchen even when you or your kitchen staff aren't there.

You can achieve restaurant kitchen safety by investing in high-quality equipment. Charlie's Fixtures offers high-quality kitchen equipment, helping your staff perform at their best in a safe environment. If you're interested, you can visit our store here!


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