Consider the Size of Your Space

When you have multiple staff in a confined space, you increase the risk of accidents. Of course, you cannot always expand your kitchen or move sites, but it’s important to train your staff on effective communication within a space, especially if you have multiple chefs, KPs and trainees crammed in one room. For example, Chef Joe may be sauteeing at the cooking station, and then he wants to move to the plating/finishing station, but as he’s passing the prep/chopping station, Chef Sue doesn’t announce she’s stepping back and the two collide, causing chaos – knives flying, hot food, oil, and a pan in the air, ready to crash down. A cramped space – and lack of communication about how to move in that space – can cause undue and unforeseen accidents.

Announce Your Whereabouts

Point one leads into point two, train all restaurant staff to announce their whereabouts, especially when they are crossing someone’s path. This tip works for both small restaurant kitchens, and big sweeping, spacious kitchens too (for those lucky enough to work in such a place). Just as seasoned chefs know they need ergonomic movement – i.e. only newbie chefs are seen flailing around the kitchen without moving deliberately – it’s important to let others know when you’re moving away from your designated station. Be aware of surroundings and let other chefs know if you’re walking around the corner by yelling “corner” – behind someone “behind” or “hot behind” when moving with something hot. When carrying hot items add “hot” and sharp items “sharp.” Breaking these rules is dangerous because other people’s movements cannot be predicted, and if you’re coming round the corner with a sharp knife, and you haven’t announced it, and another chef is turning that same corner, it could spell accident.

Create Work Zones that Work

Create work zones in your kitchen to maximize safety and avoid collision, tension and chaos. You’ll need separate zones for:

  • Cleaning
  • Cutting and prep work
  • Baking
  • Frying
  • Cooking
  • Serving and Plating

Each staff member should work within their designated zone, so there will be a chef designated to the wash and prep zone, whilst another works at the fryer, and so on – or however your head chef devises the safest plan.