Minor restaurant and kitchen injuries are abundant, and severe injuries can be life-threatening. Professional food preparation and service involve heat, bulky cartons, sharp knives and urgency.

According to FSR Magazine, these factors translate to a high risk of injuries, so it is critical to follow your employer’s established safety policies, pay attention during training and use common sense to manage dangerous processes.

Burns from heat sources

Back-of-the-house employees spend a lot of time working directly with open flames, hot utensils and cooking oil. When the pressure is on to cook as much food as possible in the shortest amount of time, you might accidentally grab the handle of a pan without a hot pad or drop a basket into a fryer, splashing yourself with oil.

Strained muscles from heavy lifting

Servers frequently load large trays with heavy plates full of food. If you overload the tray or balance it improperly, you could end up straining your shoulders or back. Prep cooks also often handle large, heavy containers of ingredients stacked high on refrigerator shelves. Reaching too high or using poor lifting technique can easily lead to back or other soft-tissue injuries.

Falls on slippery floors

No matter what your position in the foodservice industry, you have likely lost your balance skidding on a slippery walking surface at least once or twice. Many kitchen floors are almost always a little wet and spilled food or oil left uncleaned increases the risk of an employee falling and breaking bones or joints.

Cuts from knives and blades

Almost one-quarter of the injuries to restaurant employees involve lacerations and punctures from knives. Although cuts are a more frequent claim with back-of-the-house workers who process hundreds of pounds of meats and vegetables daily, bartenders and servers who need to cut garnishes and use blenders are at risk as well.