Personal protective equipment plays a key role in accident prevention and reduction at any Owner/Operator Restaurant. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) can aid in preventing injuries to the hands, arms, body, and even the face and eyes. Depending on the exposures, PPE can be utilized to prevent slip/falls, burns, lacerations, and contact with chemicals. The priorities are to identify where Personal Protective Equipment is necessary, ensuring employees wear the equipment, and having procedures to learn from prior injuries.

Preventing Burns, Cuts, Chemical Exposures, and Slip/Falls
Burns, cuts, and chemical use are injury drivers that can be addressed with proper PPE. The following tasks are identified in Corporate Policies, or restaurant industry best practices:

  • An apron, neoprene gloves, and face shield are recommended when cleaning the fryer, and when operating the filtering machine.
  • All personal protective equipment rules should apply if the fryer is designed to be topped off manually.
  • Always wear gloves and a face shield when cleaning the grill.
  • Use oven mitts when removing hot items from the oven.
  • Use gloves, face shields, or other applicable items when using harsh cleaning chemicals.
  • Use cut resistant gloves when using/sharpening knives or other sharp objects.
  • Use of slip resistant shoes help prevent slip/falls and inadvertent contact with hot surfaces.

Ensuring Employees Wear Proper PPE
Having proper PPE is the first step, but only the first step. Ensuring employees wear proper PPE can be a challenge. Consider implementing the following:

  • Solicit employee input in the type of PPE purchased.
  • Employees will be more likely to wear the PPE if they were consulted prior to purchase.
  • Inspections – How often is PPE inspected? If PPE is not in good condition, employees will be less likely to wear it. Weekly or monthly inspections are necessary to ensure that all items are still serviceable. Inspections should be documented.
  • Location – Proper PPE should be stored near the immediate work area. Signs can be posted to remind employees the appropriate PPE required for a task.
  • Work in the kitchen can be busy – by having gloves, for example, close to the grill, the employee is more likely to use the glove during cleaning activities.
  • Training – Employees may not know which types of PPE are available for a job, and/or, if any is required. Employees should be trained on usage, cleaning, maintenance, disposal, and replacement.
  • Enforcement – All managers and supervisors should be trained to enforce safety rules related to PPE. One injury due to an employee not utilizing the appropriate personal protective equipment can take that employee away from his/her job for days or weeks.

Lessons Learned
When any injury occurs at your restaurant, an investigation should be conducted to identify root causes and correction actions. If the root cause of the accident could have been prevented with the use of proper PPE, the injured employee should be retrained on the proper procedure, and the accident should be reviewed with all employees including management. If the injury resulted where no requirement for personal protective equipment existed, a new safety policy or procedure should be created and training provided to employees. Learning from prior accidents and injuries can be a great tool in preventing future accidents and injuries.