Safer & Smarter Kitchens
Source: Retail & Restaurant Facility Business
How active fryer management improves employee safety, reduces costs and increases sustainability.
Restaurants and commercial kitchens are demanding environments. Quick-service operators, fast-casual franchisees, full-service restaurant owners and facility kitchens everywhere often struggle with a number of challenges in today’s competitive market: increases in minimum wage, joint-employer positioning, new government regulations, evolving consumer tastes, and more.
It’s abundantly clear to anyone involved in the industry that foodservice is a challenging field and frontline employees in the kitchen are at high risk for serious injury because of exposure to workplace hazards. Recent industry statistics indicate that restaurants in the United States employ 15.3 million individuals, with employment expected to increase to 16.9 million by the year 2029. While the restaurant industry is flourishing, offering a variety of different jobs to employees of all ages and skill levels, these workers face a variety of risks that can lead to injuries and lost time in the workplace.
Common injuries include slips, falls, cuts, punctures, scrapes and muscle strain from lifting heavy objects. One injury, among the many, that rises to the top of concerns among kitchen staff is the risk of burns from grease and oil. In fact, as many as one-third of occupational burns occur in restaurants, totaling about 12,000 reported cases per year, although the actual number is projected to be much higher. Kitchen workers, cooks, food handlers and even wait staff are all at risk for severe burn injuries, with most people hospitalized for scalds and burns incurred during food preparation. And after an employee suffers a burn, statistics indicate he or she will miss an average of 17.5 days in recovery, which can adversely affect the bottom line. For this reason, it’s imperative that restaurant staffs understand how to prevent burns in the kitchen day in and day out.
One of the biggest causes of burns in restaurant kitchens is the deep fryer. Grease is hot, heavy and hard to handle. It’s essential that all employees be trained on the most fundamental understanding of user safety and basic precautions because managing cooking oil and grease disposal is one of the most dreaded tasks in any kitchen. It’s dangerous, labor intensive and can impact business profitability if someone is injured. With oil, it used to be common practice for employees to manually transfer used product to a cart, shuffle it outside and dump it into a storage tank. Not only was the process time consuming, it frequently led to painful and often debilitating injuries.
That’s why an active fryer management system provides a unique way to make commercial kitchens safer, more efficient and environmentally sustainable by micro-filtering existing cooking oil, providing bin-free waste oil collection, deep cleaning fryers and recycling that waste oil into bio-diesel fuel.
Getting the best return on oil investment and fried food prices is a critical component of sustaining a modern kitchen. With costs of operating a restaurant or commercial kitchen continually rising, industry leaders are looking for ways to boost sales while trimming unnecessary expenses. Investments in expensive oil management kitchen equipment can derail budgets and increase operating costs. However, a service that works with your existing deep fryer infrastructure can actually improve the quality of your food, reduce your operating expenses and improve the safety of your kitchen by eliminating the need for any employee to clean fryers, dispose of waste oil in messy bins or add new oil back into the system.
By taking advantage of a complete oil management service, kitchen operators no longer have to worry about ordering, filtering, storing, handling or disposing of hot oil ever again. It not only drastically improves kitchen safety, it also allows foodservice operators to become active participants in a more sustainable economy by recycling waste. While properly disposing of used cooking oil is an important part of a more circular economy, actually recycling the oil and converting it into bio-diesel demonstrates a restaurant or commercial kitchen’s commitment to taking a waste material and putting it back out into the consumer world again. A priority for restaurants, and the hospitality industry as a whole over the coming years, will be to not only think about sustainable packaging, but what products can be reused and which vendor partners can help them become more active participants in a closed-loop system to minimize waste, pollution and carbon emissions.
With the national unemployment rate hovering between 3% and 4%, finding quality employees remains a struggle for most restaurants and facility managers. The competition for a strong workforce is more competitive than ever. A safe and environmentally conscious workplace is incredibly attractive and important to operators working to retain existing employees and simultaneously recruiting new talent. Active fryer management allows quick-service operators, fast-casual franchisees, full-service restaurant owners and facility kitchens everywhere to not only find the best employees, but keep them safe as they make kitchens smarter and more sustainable.
— Tom Dunn, CEO of Filta Environmental Kitchen Solutions, is a 20-year veteran of the foodservice and franchising industry who leads all of Filta’s initiatives across the U.S. and Canada. Learn more at www.filta.ca.
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