How to treat a wound
Working in food service can be dangerous. Whether it’s your first day on the job or you’ve been a chef for years, accidents happen and cuts and burns are inevitable. It’s best to prevent accidents and injuries by keeping your work area clean and wearing the proper attire. However, it’s also important to know how to treat injuries when they do happen. In case you get injured at work, keep the following 7 steps in mind.
1. Stop what you’re doing
The priority after you get injured is you. Stop what you’re doing so you can address whatever injury you sustained. Even if you are not bleeding, it is still important for you to stop and figure out what to do about the injury. Cuts and burns are probably the most common, but no matter how small your injury is, you should still take the time to consider what you need and which of the following steps you should take.
2. Tell your manager
It’s important to tell someone else what happened. Your manager has more training on what to do in case of an injury at work. Communicate with them about what happened to you so they can understand more about the injury. They can then decide whether you can continue to work or if you need to go to the hospital. If the injury is small enough that you can continue to work, continue to follow these steps.
3. Wash the wound
The next step is to wash the wound. Blood can be very dangerous if it gets onto food or utensils. Burns will often form blisters, which can be just as dangerous. Make sure you scrub your hands like you would if you were just washing your hands. Wash the wound thoroughly, and wash the area around the wound as well. You might have to apply pressure on the wound if it starts to bleed again. If the injury is a burn, make sure to run cool water over it for at least a few minutes. This will help your burn to heal faster.
4. Cover the wound
Next, you need to cover the wound with a sterile bandage. Simply putting on gloves is not enough to keep food safe. A sterile bandage is very important to provide more protection between your wound and the food you will be working with. This is especially important if the wound is still bleeding. It will not only protect your customers, but it will also help your wound to heal faster.
5. Cover the bandage
You probably learned about this in your training, but when you have an open sore on your hand, you need to use a double barrier. This means that you need to put a waterproof covering over the bandage. This can either be a finger cot or a single-use glove. While the sterile bandage counts as the first barrier, remember that the second one needs to be waterproof. Even when your wound is a burn or a blister, you still need to have two barriers to avoid contaminating food.
6. Discard any contaminated food
Now that your wound is taken care of, you should take a look at where you were working. Discard any food you were working with when you were wounded. For example, if you were cutting raw chicken and you cut yourself, you need to throw away all of the raw chicken you were working with. Even if you don’t think you got blood on it, it needs to be discarded. If you were burned, you should still take a look at what foods you were working with and discard the ones that were near you when you were injured.
7. Clean and sanitize utensils
Finally, clean and sanitize all of the utensils and food contact surfaces you were working with. The same rule applies even if you don’t think it was contaminated; you still need to clean and sanitize it. It’s also a good idea to clean the sink and faucet where you washed your wound. Otherwise, other people who wash their hands at the sink could contaminate their hands.
In case of emergency
If you sustain an injury that is very severe, you need to seek medical attention. Make sure your manager knows that you are leaving. Your manager should support you in getting the proper attention you need. You should remember that if your injury is going to contaminate food or dramatically affect your ability to work, you need to go to a doctor. Your health is very important and it is worth leaving work to make sure that you are okay.
At some point in your food service career, you will probably be injured while at work. Even the most experienced employees can accidentally get hurt. Remember these steps and remember that your health is important. Work with your manager to address your injury so you can safely return to your job.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in February 2017 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.