Fall 2017 | cbservices.org

Christian Brothers Services
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Kitchen Safety:
Preventing Burns
and Scalds

Your kitchen is a hotbed for your employees to experience burns and scalds.  As a matter of fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the food service industry has the highest incidence rate of heat burns of any employee sector.  From working with high-volume meal preparation, splattering grease, open flames and steaming food, now is the time to walk through your kitchen, identify burn risks and mitigate them. 

What's the difference between a burn and a scald?
Burns: In simplest terms, a burn can be defined as damage to skin cells and tissue caused by fire, heat, electricity, chemicals, radiation, light or friction.
Scalds: A scald is caused when a portion of skin is exposed to a hot liquid or steam. For instance, scalding is often caused by hot water, hot food, cooking fluids like grease or a hot drink.

Workplace burn and scald injuries result from contact with:
Hot liquids and steam
Hot oil and grease
Deep fat fryers (this is the number one cause of kitchen burns)
Hot utensils
Pressure cookers
Coffee pots
Hot dishwashers
Cooking pots
Hot substances such as food or sauces
Hot surfaces - stoves, grills, ovens and toaster ovens
Fires from hot grease or oil
Exposed electrical wires or improperly maintained electrical appliances or equipment

What can your employees do to protect themselves?

  • Wear long sleeve shirts and long pants when cooking.
  • Use dry potholders, gloves and mitts.  Use long gloves for deep ovens. 
  • Adjust burner flames to cover only the bottom of the pan. Use the right size burner for the size of pot or pan. 
  • Make sure pots and pans are not overfilled.
  • Check hot food on stoves carefully. When working with stoves and ovens, always turn off the electric elements and gas flames of stove when they are not in use.
  • Avoid steam - it can burn. Open lids away from you. Release the pressure safely before opening steam ovens and always face away from opening doors. 
  • Use caution when removing items from the microwave.
  • Wear sturdy footwear that protects your feet.
  • Keep pot handles away from burners.
  • Avoid letting hot water contact hot oil.


  • Leave hot oil unattended. 
  • Lean over pots of boiling liquids. 
  • Spill or pour water into hot oil. 
  • Allow pot handles or cooking utensils to stick out from counters or stove fronts. 
  • Use metal containers, foil or utensils in microwave ovens. 
  • Allow oil to build up on cooking surfaces, pots and pans. 
  • Allow pan handles to be over another burner.

Burn injuries to your employees can result in not only losses of time and money, but also cause them tremendous pain and suffering.  You can help prevent burn injuries by increasing worker awareness and making burn safety a key part of job training.


  • Tasks or jobs that are high-risk in the kitchen area.
  • Personnel who may be at higher-risk.
  • Times of day when more injuries occur.
  • Provide warning labels in other languages for non-English speaking employees.
  • Use unambiguous warning labels and easy to understand pictorial warning labels for non-readers on all hazardous kitchen equipment.
  • In-depth investigation of burn injuries and "near misses" should be conducted promptly to identify contributing factors and to obtain accurate information about the events leading to the incident. Information from these investigations can increase awareness of hazards and provide data for safety training.
  • Increase employee awareness of the dangers of burns and scalds through thorough and ongoing safety training.