Workers in the food and beverage industry in Georgia face various occupational hazards. If you are a chef in a restaurant or hotel, you might find that some of the risks are unique to your profession while others are more general and also present in other industries. The urgency of peak times in restaurant kitchens are most dangerous, with all the risks exacerbated by the increased activity levels.
As a chef, you earn your income in one of the most hazardous work environments. Along with fuel, flames and dangerous chemicals, you face the threats posed by sharp knives, dangerous food preparation equipment and other lurking dangers.
Safety must always be the primary priority in a commercial kitchen. When it comes to burns, prevention is critical in dealing with the following risks:
- The surfaces of stoves and grills can be flaming hot, and they pose multiple dangers.
- Unintentional touching of a hot panhandle can cause severe burns on the palm of your hand.
- Splashes and spills of scalding water or other boiling-hot liquids can cause serious injuries in the blink of an eye.
- Spattering can be dangerous when frying food in hot oil.
Keeping a safe distance between you and hot objects when possible might prevent burns; otherwise, you should avoid rushing and be cautious and alert.
Cuts and lacerations
Regardless of the level of your knife skills, there will always be a risk of cutting yourself. The following hazards are par for the course in a kitchen:
- Not only knives but also graters, slicers and other components of food processors are sharp and could cause severe lacerations.
- Putting your hands into equipment to add or remove ingredients without switching it off can lead to amputated fingers or hands.
- Avoid leaving knives lying around after using them as they can fall off the work surface and cause foot injuries.
Always store sharp objects in their allocated storage spaces after use.
Along with sales assistants, hairdressers and other workers who spend most of their days on their feet, you will likely be prone to back pain and other musculoskeletal injuries. Noting the following might allow you to take precautions:
- Avoid standing in one place for extended periods, move around as much as possible.
- Take frequent breaks and ease the strain by doing mini stretches.
- Take care and learn safe bending and lifting techniques because back and spine strain can develop from remaining bent over pots and pans for long periods.
If you do not take care of your back, you might develop long-term health problems like arthritis.
Tennis elbow and chef's foot
Too much of anything can be harmful. Tendonitis in your elbows and hallux rigidis in your big toes can result from excessive elbow stress and spending too many hours on your feet. The following notes might explain these risks:
- Tendonitis follows repetitive strain on your elbows.
- Take frequent breaks when you have a lot of chopping, dicing and slicing to do to prevent pain and swelling in your elbows.
- Long periods of standing cause more than back problems. Hallux rigidus or chef's foot is arthritis in the joints of your big toes.
- If you do not wear comfortable shoes and take regular breaks from standing, the pain and stiffness in those joints could even make walking difficult.
The longevity of your career as a chef will depend on the level of care and caution you practice.
If you end up in a hospital as the result of a kitchen-related injury, you might experience concern about the medical expenses and lost wages that might affect your financial stability. An attorney who has experience in dealing with the intricacies of the Georgia workers' compensation insurance system can explain the benefits for which you are eligible and assist with the navigation of the claims process.