Safety Tips

Protect yourself from cuts in food processing

Cuts can be a serious problem for workers in the food processing industry. They generally occur while workers are using knives, cleavers, or slicing machinery in meat and fish production. In the Washington state food processing industry, cuts are second only to sprains in the number of workers’ compensations claims reported. The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries offers the following techniques to help workers avoid cuts:

  • Cut away from, not toward, your body. When slicing, stand to the side of the cut to keep the blade away from your body.
  • Use a stabilizing tool, not your fingers, for steadiness. Keep your fingers in view and away from the cutting area.
  • Use food pushers, not your hands, to advance food into machines. Never put your fingers near moving parts or blades.
  • Make sure all guards and safety devices are in place on meat slicers and other cutting machinery. These devices are designed to protect your hands from the blades and your clothing from catching in the moving parts of the slicer. Do not use the machine if these devices are not in place.
  • Wear appropriate gloves. Use cut-resistant gloves for high-production jobs. However, remember that “cut resistant” does not mean not “cut proof” – injuries can still occur. Make sure the gloves fit properly.
  • Use a cutting board for safe cutting or chopping. Never hold items in your hand while cutting or slicing.
  • Use the correct knife for the job. For example, use carving knives for large jobs, boning knives to remove meat from the bone and paring knives for small slicing jobs.
  • Keep knives and blades sharp. Dull blades tend to slip, whereas sharp blades improve accuracy and performance. They also decrease strain and fatigue in the worker.
  • Tighten or replace loose handles. If a knife cannot be repaired properly, throw it away.

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