Safety Procedures 101: How to Stay Safe Working in the Food Industry

food safety procedures restaurant industry

That hurts! You burnt your hand, but it's a rush time. You still need to bring food out to your customer because they've been waiting for a long time to receive it. 

All of this could have been avoided had you known more safety precautions when working in the food industry. Working in the food industry during the COVID-19 pandemic is a big worry. There are also accidents and other unsafe situations that can pop up when you work in the service industry, including burns, falls, and more. 

It's important to follow safety procedures when working in the food industry to ensure you're protecting yourself and protecting others. Here are safety procedures you can follow to guarantee safety in the workplace. 

Know the Danger Zone 

The "Danger Zone" refers to bacteria growing in food. This usually occurs when food reaches temperatures of 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. 

You can avoid the Danger Zone by keeping hot food above 140 degrees Fahrenheit and cold food below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. You don't want to make your customers or yourself sick! 

Foodborne illness should be taken seriously. While some people may only have mild symptoms, like mild gastroenteritis, other people may have more serious reactions that can even threaten their life. Stay safe and out of the Danger Zone! 

Raw Food Needs Extra Safety Procedures 

Raw food can be tricky to deal with. You risk cross-contaminating food if you store it or have it near cooked foods. If something spills, clean it immediately and dispose of any cooked food it might have landed on. 

Keep raw food stored away in the bottom of the refrigerator. You can let it thaw out without having it pose a food safety hazard on the rest of the refrigerated food. 

Keep Your Back Safe 

Heavy lifting in the food industry is not uncommon. You need to make sure you lift heavy objects correctly so that you don't injure your back. Leaning over and lifting means you'll definitely strain your back. 

To keep your back safe when lifting, lift with your legs. Bring the box or object close to your body, squat down using your legs, and lift yourself with leg power instead of using your back. Your back will thank you for it later! 

Non-Slip Shoes are a Must 

If you're working in the food industry, non-slip shoes are a must-buy. Non-slip shoes help you avoid food industry accidents like slipping on spilled liquids or uneven surfaces. Snags in carpets and splattered water on the floor won't be a problem when you wear non-slip shoes. 

You can find non-slip shoes in almost any shoe store. Make sure you pick a pair that is also comfortable if you work on your feet a lot. 

Take Breaks 

Don't be afraid to take breaks when you need them. You won't be at your best if you're holding your bladder or have an emergency phone call coming in. 

Under state law, you should be guaranteed some sort of rest period if you work four hours or more. Doublecheck your local and state laws to verify what you're entitled to as a food industry worker. 

No Horseplay, No Problem

Sadly, it does need to be said. Everyone likes to have fun, but when we start messing around with horseplay, it can put people at risk of workplace accidents or incidents. 

Avoid horseplay at all costs and especially in kitchen or food preparation areas. You never know what you'll run into. Sometimes even non-slip shoes won't save you if you're horseplaying with a coworker. 

Don't drink or use drugs on the job either. Stay sober and clear-headed so you can focus and avoid accidents. Keep your job and your safety by not messing around in the workplace. 

Review Evacuation Safety Procedures 

Review evacuation safety procedures from time to time to stay updated on new procedures or policies. Whether it's by fire, natural disaster, or some other force, knowing your company's evacuation methods ahead of time can help keep you calm in the moment of an emergency. 

Ask your boss questions if you have any, and make sure new employees are also up-to-date on what you need to do in the event of an evacuation or emergency. 

COVID-19 Precautions 

On top of this, nowadays you need to follow COVID-19 precautions to make sure you do your part to stop the spread of the virus. Working in the food industry during a pandemic is challenging, but following proper protocol will help you, your coworkers, and customers stay safe. 

Wear a mask at all times, and make sure you wash your hands frequently. Remind your coworkers to do their part as well. If you begin to have any symptoms of the coronavirus, alert your boss and stay home until symptoms subside or you have a negative test result. 

Stay Familiar with Your Rights 

Sometimes things do get out of control, and you get injured while in the workplace. How you can avoid having an HR headache is to know your rights and what you're entitled to as an injured food industry worker. 

Workers' compensation is a route you can explore if you are injured on the job. Make sure you file all necessary paperwork and consult with all necessary authorities for your compensation. 

Follow All Necessary Safety Procedures 

Working in the food industry is never easy and without accidents. However, if you take care and follow these safety procedures, you may avoid having another accident in the future. 

Whether you're preparing food or serving it, lifting or advocating for break times, staying familiar with how you can keep yourself, your coworkers, and customers safe is of utmost importance! 

Check out the rest of our website for more on how to stay safe in other industries too! We publish a variety of helpful articles on food safety procedures and restaurant operations.

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