Cooking Oil Safety Tip Sheet
As a restaurant owner or kitchen manager, you’re probably well-versed in the many occupational hazards that come with working in such a busy and crowded environment. People can drop things, slip on things, or otherwise injure themselves at any time, and your job is to minimize the risk of this happening to your employees. Although you may consider dangers from the appliances or the workers, it can sometimes be easy to overlook the issues surrounding the food itself – and specifically, the oil that is used for cooking it.
Cooking oil, while ubiquitous in any restaurant where food is fried or deep-fried, can also cause serious burns and other injuries if proper caution is not taken around it. Hot oil or grease, like hot water, can cause third-degree burns, but oil burns tend to be more severe, for several reasons: the oil heats to higher temperatures than water does, and it stays on the skin longer due to a thicker consistency. Work-related burns are one of the most frequent and most serious types of injuries in the restaurant industry, but they are also preventable. Here are some tips that can help you understand how to handle, transport, change, and clean cooking oil safely.
- Know how to use your fryer. Training programs are available and encouraged so that you can get trained in the proper use and maintenance of your deep fryer and learn how to avoid accidents. You can also get this training for all of your employees so they are aware of what to do around the fryer. The majority of workplace accidents occur when employees don’t approach appliances with the proper caution, mainly because they don’t know how to use them.
- Wear protective equipment. Aprons, hair nets, gloves, and sometimes even safety goggles are all essential. These items can make a huge difference in case an accident does occur by decreasing the severity of burns and protecting vital areas such as the eyes from the impact of hot oil.
- Clean with caution. In a kitchen, everything moves so quickly that a fryer may need to be cleaned out every few hours without a break in between. However, you must wait until the oil is completely cool before changing it or attempting to clean the fryer; this can take a while, but it is essential to prevent burns. You should also wait until the oil has cooled down to clean the vents in the kitchen that may have oil in them. To prevent accidents, use gloves and scrapers when cleaning the oil – never your bare hands.
- Cook correctly. Make sure that you are using the correct grease level for your deep fryer, and cooking at the correct temperature – it may be tempting to make it hotter to cook the food faster, but this just creates an accident waiting to happen.
- Keep stove surfaces clean. Oil that is spilled around the stove can ignite if it comes into contact with an open flame or even an extremely hot food item, making oil-stained counters a potential fire hazard. Clean counter surfaces and stove tops as you cook throughout the day to prevent issues like this.
- Avoid trips and slips. Advise your employees to not reach over or climb on top of fryers and other hot surfaces to avoid accidentally spilling hot oil or falling into it. You should also make sure that your floors are clean and dry; never work close to hot fryers when the floor is wet. TEll employees to wear slip-resistant shoes, and use grease-cutting solutions to clean floors that may have slippery oil on them.
- Don’t mix water with oil. This can cause flare-ups as the cold water meets the hot oil, and is especially dangerous if your employees are grabbing drinks stored next to the oil, or if you are trying to cool the oil by adding ice to it. You should also use caution when adding frozen foods such as fries to oil; make sure not to overfill the fryer. If you need to extinguish a hot oil or grease fire, use a class K fire extinguisher – NEVER water.
- Dispose of used oil the right way. Do not pour it down the drain, as oil can build up in the pipes and cause backups in your restaurant’s plumbing. Don’t attempt to use hot water or a garbage disposal to break up solidified grease either, as it still condenses and builds up in plumbing when it cools. Instead, call a professional service to pick up and recycle your cooking oil, so that you can help the environment while getting rid of your oil safely.
Advanced Fryer Solutions (powered by Filta) can handle your cooking oil needs with ease. We’ll not only handle the grease trap maintenance for you, but we’ll handle your oil disposal, clean and refill your oil, maintain your FOG records, and get rid of the grease! Oh, and we clean the fryer, too. Contact us today for a free demo and have the last conversation you’ll ever have about cooking oil and grease.