Restaurants are among the most dangerous workplaces. Fast food restaurants are most prone to injuries. One analysis found that 44,000 teenage employees were injured in these workplaces in a two year period.
Restaurant owners need to recognize the risks of injuries and take steps to mitigate them. Fortunately, there are a number of things they can do to keep their employees safe. You will want to start by recognizing the most common causes of workplace injuries. Some of the steps that they should take are listed below.
Make Sure Floors Are Not Wet or Cluttered
Slips and falls are the biggest cause of injuries in restaurant workplaces. An analysis by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that they account for roughly 25% of restaurant workplace injuries.
You need to take measures to ensure floors are not going to lead to accidents. This involves making sure they are not wet or have clutter that employees can trip over.
Ensure Employees Are Properly Trained
Another common reason that employees are injured is that they are not trained properly. They are more likely to get injured when they follow the wrong steps and don’t understand safety guidelines.
You want to follow all safety standards established by the National Restaurant Association. They will help minimize the risk that employees are involved in accidents.
Make Sure Utensils and Equipment is Properly Maintained
You also have to make sure that your equipment and utensils are in good working order. Employees are more likely to get injured if they are using poorly maintained tools.
One of the most important things that you should do is make sure that your knives are sharpened. People are much more likely to get injured using dull knives, because they are more likely to slip.
You also have to make sure that your stoves and fryers are properly cleaned and maintained. This will reduce the risk of burn injuries.
If you have one or more fryer(s) at your restaurant, occasional repairs will be necessary to keep them in top shape. However, the cost of repair could be kept to a minimum with regular maintenance and checks. Just like regular checks can decrease the cost of maintenance over time, a lack of regular checks can have the exact opposite effect and more.
Not only can a fryer in poor condition be costlier to repair once the damage becomes unignorable, but it is also possible that the entire appliance might need to be replaced at that point. Besides, an unmaintained fryer can lead to horrible accidents, devastating fires, and expensive lawsuits. Avoid taking any unnecessary risks in this department or paying any more in maintenance than you should need to. With those goals in mind, just got through the following to learn about the early signs of trouble in a commercial fryer.
Anomalies in Oil Temperature Readings
Any food that’s cooked in a commercial fryer is naturally sensitive to oil temperatures. This means that if the oil temperature is even moderately higher or lower than what it is supposed to be, fried food could end up losing its usual flavor, remain undercooked, or get burnt. Under normal conditions, this should not be an issue because all commercial fryers have built-in thermostats that we can use to control the oil temperature with precision. Unfortunately, that is only true for as long as the mechanisms work in the way that they are supposed to. This brings us to anomalous oil temperature readings.
Anomalies or discrepancies between the actual oil temperature and the temperature shown can indicate any one of two problems. Either the thermostat itself is malfunctioning, or the oven thermometer is failing. Although thermostat failure is a much more serious issue, we will discuss that later. For now, let’s focus on how to tell early on if the fryer’s thermometer is not working properly.
If some or all fried items on the menu taste and/or look over-fried or under-fried, check to see:
- If anyone in the kitchen has changed the established, operating oil temperatures for the specific dishes.
- If the raw food supply is different in any significant way.
- If food fried in only one particular fryer seems to have this problem, that is provided you have multiple fryers.
As long as you can negate all the factors mentioned above, it’s almost certainly an issue with the thermometer. A malfunctioning thermometer will not affect the oil temperature directly, but the discrepancy between what the oil temperature actually is at any given time and what the cook sees while monitoring will affect how he/she regulates the heat. As a result, the fried dishes will not taste the way they are expected to, although that’s just the initial sign. Ignore the signs for too long and it will inevitably lead to increased instances of burnt dishes and declining food quality.
Loss of Precision in Automated/Manual Oil Temperature Control
Before even considering that something is wrong with the fryer’s thermostat, do make sure that the fryer is clean, and all the burners are burning just as they are supposed to. Food, dirt, oil, and grime will clog up your burners and decrease the fryer’s energy efficiency, peak heat capacity, and heat retention capacity very quickly. As these are directly connected to the thermostat’s automated and manual functions, the fryer must be kept clean. Busy commercial fryers and ovens get dirty on each workday, so they must be cleaned daily as well for the temperature controls to work properly.
The thermostat of an oven or a fryer is the primary mechanism that we use to control cooking or frying temperatures. Modern thermostats are also programmable, smart devices. After entering the appropriate temperature regulation inputs for a dish, we can automate the whole temperature management process so that the fryer can finish frying the dish on its own from thereon.
Most thermostats have an integrated thermometer nowadays, and very rarely do both mechanisms fail at the same time. We can use that to our advantage as well because monitoring the temperature shown by a functioning thermometer is an easy way to tell if the thermostat is indeed malfunctioning. The use of secondary thermometers is also recommended to confirm the same.
If a thermostat’s automation process is malfunctioning, food getting burnt will become an increasingly common hindrance. Provided that the problem is restricted to just the automation and not the core temperature regulation system, it will not affect the accuracy of manual inputs. If the problem runs deeper and the regulation system itself is malfunctioning, a slower and/or reduced response to manual inputs should be evident.
Either way, take early action if anyone is complaining about:
- The automated temperature regulation feature malfunctioning.
- The fryer’s temperature not going up or down at the same rate as it used to.
- Manual attempts at lowering and/or raising the oil temperature being no longer as precise or effective as it should be.
Problems with the thermostat must be addressed at the earliest. Failure to repair/replace a faulty thermostat in time is a common cause for commercial fryer related accidents and fires. Check this range from McCombs Supply to find top of the line thermostats, thermometers, thermopiles, thermocouples, knobs, griddles, and just about anything else one may need to repair/replace faulty parts inside commercial cooking appliances.
The Pilot Light is Going Out Too Often
The pilot light is the tiny burner that always stays lit inside a commercial fryer or oven during workdays. The pilot light is not supposed to go out unless you want it to, but the need for occasional relighting is fairly common. However, if your fryer’s pilot light is going out far more often than usual, it should be taken as a sign that something is wrong. Check:
- If you can smell a gas leak or notice any signs of it.
- If not, then see if the pilot light can be relit at all.
- If yes, then monitor how long it takes before the pilot flame goes out again.
A pilot flame that refuses to ignite or goes out soon after being relit almost always indicates a damaged thermopile. You will need to have the malfunctioning part replaced as soon possible, even if it is semi-functioning for now. Since we cannot start frying food without lighting the pilot flame first, the entire appliance will soon go out of commission if a pilot light issue is ignored. In case you do smell a gas leak though, DO NOT attempt to reignite the pilot flame.
Now that you know what to look for, do make sure that you or your designated employees check for the signs every day. If a fryer goes down, it’s not just the cost of repairs you need to consider. Every day a fryer stays down, the place is likely to lose money because of it too. In case the damage is severe enough to warrant a new commercial fryer purchase, that just compounds the cost of it all to another level.
This is not to say that you should never replace old fryers, because old commercial models do consume a lot more energy than comparatively newer versions. However, keeping the old fryer in good shape will make sure that you get a good price for it. Also, that will let you install a new commercial fryer at your own convenience, without disrupting workflow or losing out on business. It should not have to be an emergency decision taken in a situation where you are forced to buy a new fryer right away.
Invest in the Right Technology
A growing body of research indicates that technology can reduce workplace injuries. You can use technology to automate some of the more dangerous aspects of the workplace, which keeps employees from assuming the safety risks. You can also use IoT sensors to identify safety hazards and take corrective action.
Take the Right Steps to Reduce the Risk of Workplace Injuries
Restaurants are some of the most dangerous workplaces, other than the construction and mining sectors. Fortunately, there are steps that restaurant employers can take to reduce the risk of injuries. The guidelines listed above can help.