Accidents at Work in Scotland: The Kitchen | Watermans

Accidents at Work in Scotland – How to Avoid Commercial Kitchen Accidents

The recent roaring success of the American television series “The Bear” has given all of us an insight into what it can be like to work in a commercial kitchen. With shouts of “backs, behind, corner!” ringing in our ears after every episode, the busy and often hectic kitchen environment is highlighted – and so too are the potential hazards.

Whilst we hope that most of the scenes depicted in the drama are just that (drama), it’s important for hospitality employers to make every effort to reduce the chances of accidents at work happening in kitchens in Scotland.

Working in a commercial kitchen can be a challenging yet rewarding occupation. Chefs, kitchen assistants and waiting staff work together to prepare and serve food to hungry customers in a particular time frame.

When preparing the food, everyone in the kitchen is often focused on preparing the dishes. This can mean that health and safety procedures in the kitchen can be overlooked, resulting in serious accidents at work.

Some common injuries sustained in commercial kitchens can include burns, lacerations, and back injuries – often as a result of poor manual handling techniques. Similarly, as oil and water are so often used in the preparation of food, slips can occur if spillages are not correctly handled as soon as they happen.

Our Personal Injury team has identified some of the potential hazards associated with working in a fast-paced kitchen and the measures that should be taken to prevent any accidents from happening.

Slips, Trips and Falls

Working in a kitchen means working with liquids like water, oil, sauces, and cleaning products. The constant use of these liquids increases the risk of spillages. If a spillage occurs, it is important to ensure that a wet floor sign is erected and that the spillage is cleaned up and the floor dried as soon as possible. Floors in all kitchen areas should be cleaned regularly, according to a schedule, to reduce the potential for falls in the workplace. Wearing correct, non-slip footwear is a must in the kitchen to avoid slips, and taking your time as you move around the workplace is important.

Keeping walkways clear of boxes and equipment avoids the likelihood of tripping and hurting yourself or anyone else, and it is the responsibility of the head chef and kitchen manager to ensure that all floor surfaces are even and safe to walk on.


Cooking food means using heat, so it is not surprising that burns are one of the most common workplace injuries in a commercial kitchen. Ovens, grills, steamers, and fryers are used to prepare meals, and adequate training should be given to every employee in the use of this equipment. Skin contact with hot equipment can cause burns, as well as hot water, oil, steam, and cleaning products.

Wearing suitable PPE in the kitchen can prevent serious burn injuries. Chef jackets are designed with a double-breasted front and long sleeves to protect the skin from contact with hot liquids and cooking equipment. Aprons also act as an added layer of protection when worn over chef jackets. To protect your hands, chefs and kitchen assistants should wear oven gloves when handling hot pans and rubber gloves when using cleaning products to prevent chemical burns.

If you are moving around the kitchen with hot equipment, ensure that your team members know you are doing so by announcing it (backs, behind, corner!) and move carefully around the vicinity.

Cuts and Lacerations

When preparing their ingredients for service, chefs and kitchen porters use many different knives and tools. It is important to ensure that these objects are stored correctly before and after use, and handled to a safe standard during prep. Knife skills should be taught to the chefs, and making sure that knives are constantly sharp is also important. A blunt knife can be more dangerous than a sharp one, and the possible injuries suffered can be serious.

Some cuts may not need emergency medical attention, but others can be much more serious, and result in blood loss, tissue damage or the need for surgery. Adequate knife and tool training is imperative to the avoidance of serious lacerations in the line of work of a chef or kitchen assistant.

Manual Handling

Manual handling accidents can be caused by lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, and lowering objects in the workplace. In a commercial kitchen, the possibility of suffering a manual handling injury can be quite high. Long hours can be spent bending down to put food in and take food out of the oven; boxes of fresh and tinned produce need to be moved from the delivery area to the prep area or stored on shelves or in fridges.

Moving around the kitchen carrying heavy trays of cutlery, pots or pans, and  emptying waste bins can all put pressure on an individual, so it is important each member of staff receives adequate manual handling training to reduce the possibility of an accident in the kitchen.

How can employers prevent accidents in the kitchen?

When working in high-pressure environments like kitchens, safety standards and procedures can often be overlooked. If you are a chef or a kitchen assistant, your employer must provide you with adequate training for the job and ensure that the commercial kitchen’s safety standards are high. The chances of an accident at work happening in the kitchen can be minimised with thorough training and the provision of protective equipment.

Employers can also decrease the risk of a kitchen accident happening by:

  • Ensuring adequate cleaning of the commercial kitchen
  • Providing first aid training for all staff members
  • Conducting regular risk assessments

What if I have been inured in an accident at work in the kitchen?

If you have been injured in an accident at work in Scotland that wasn’t your fault, then you are entitled to claim compensation for the pain and loss of earnings you may have experienced as a result.

Making an accident at work claim may seem daunting, and you may not know where to start. At Watermans, our Personal Injury team offers straightforward legal advice, so that you know where you stand at every step in the process.

How long does a personal injury claim take?

The length of the claims process can differ widely from a mere couple of weeks to many years in more complex cases. If you’re looking to minimise time, take legal advice as soon as possible, quickly gather your evidence and submit the correct injury documentation.

If you’ve suffered an accident at work in Scotland, one of our personal injury experts would be happy to help you. Contact us on 0131 555 7055, or by filling out the form below.

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Our personal injury claims expert

“Making a claim for compensation can be such a daunting process for people, so I try to make it as straightforward and easy to understand as I can for them.”

Susanne McGraw, Head of Personal Injury