Commercial kitchens and food preparation facilities can be incredibly hot places. This week, we thought we’d take a break from discussing food-borne illness prevention and online food safety certification in Minnesota to offer some advice to keep your employees safe and healthy when the temperature rises.
MN Certified Food Manager’s Guide to Beating the Heat
Our first piece of advice is to make sure that your ventilation system is functioning properly. We suggest that you inspect it once a year to ensure that there is nothing clogging the vents and the fans are all in good working order. Cleaning your system’s filters often is another easy thing you can do to keep it running at its highest efficiency. Many commercial vent systems have easily removable filters than can be cleaned by a thorough scrubbing and a trip through your industrial dishwasher.
Next, we’d like to give you three tips with regards to your staff that will help keep them happy and healthy on in a hot kitchen.
• Hydrate frequently
• Don’t overcrowd your production line
• Make sure breaks are taken away from the kitchen
On a busy day, it may be hard to get adequate fluids into your staff, but it is vitally important. Strongly suggest to your employees that they drink only water. Beverages filled with sugar and caffeine can have an adverse effect as they may dehydrate rather than give the body the water it needs to stave off heat exhaustion.
If you have multiple employees working on the same line, it may be a good idea to assess how many are actually necessary. If you have several staff members working in close quarters, it may raise their body temperatures and they will dehydrate faster.
Finally, there may be a hidden nugget of advice in the old adage “if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.” If any of your employees are exhibiting signs that the heat is affecting their performance or physical state, get them out of the production area. Making an ailing staff member stick it out until his normally scheduled break time may lead to heat exhaustion or even heat stroke. Make sure they get to a cool area and drink plenty of water.
Our tips aren’t the only way to stay cool under intense circumstances. We’d like to hear your tips and procedures that you use to keep your staff comfortable in the kitchen. Do you have any advice that we missed that other MN certified food managers should be aware of?