Tips for Protecting Your Food Truck's Staff - dummies

Tips for Protecting Your Food Truck’s Staff

By Richard Myrick

Even though the space your food truck and commercial kitchen takes up is minimal compared to many restaurants, the same types of injuries take place. Knowing how to avoid these injuries can help you prevent some of them from happening. Be sure to train your staff to observe these safety rules to prevent them from becoming victims of injury.


Work-related burns are a leading cause of occupational injury in the United States. How can you avoid burn injuries in your food truck? Take the following precautions:

  • Avoid overcrowding on range tops.

  • Set pot handles away from burners, and never allow handles to stick out over the edge of the range.

  • Adjust burner flames to cover only the bottom of a pan.

  • Avoid loose clothing when working around ranges or ovens.

  • Avoid porous fabrics, such as canvas, on your footwear because they don’t protect feet from spills and burns.

  • Check hot foods on the stove carefully by uncovering steaming food containers away from your face.

  • Don’t leave hot oil or grease unattended.

  • Use hot pads when removing items from the microwave or oven, and lift lids cautiously to allow steam to escape.

Take extra-special care if you have a fryer on your food truck; fryer mishaps often result in burns. Here are some guidelines for fryer safety:

  • Use grease-containing units that dump automatically.

  • Use fryers that lower food automatically into the hot oil.

  • Use splash guards on fryers.

  • Use potholders, gloves, or mitts.

  • Shake off excess ice crystals before placing a fryer basket in hot oil.

  • Fill fryer baskets only halfway.

  • Raise and lower fryer baskets gently.

  • Don’t stand too close to or lean over hot oil.

  • Keep liquids and beverages away from fryers.

  • Follow the fryer manufacturer’s directions when adding new fat or oil and/or when disposing of oil.

Cuts, lacerations, and puncture wounds

Cuts, lacerations, and puncture wounds are some of the most common injuries reported in the food service industry. These injuries can be caused from handling knives or other cutting equipment. You can reduce their likelihood by implementing some simple strategies:

  • Provide knives that are the right size and type for each job.

  • Provide proper storage for knives (counter racks, wall racks, or storage blocks).

  • Keep knives sharp (dull knives are unsafe).

  • Keep handles in good repair; tighten or replace loose handles.

  • Never leave knives soaking in water.

  • Stop cutting and place the knife you’re using in a flat, safe place if you’re interrupted.

  • Pass a knife to colleagues by laying it on a counter, or pass it with the blade pointed down.

  • Never try to catch a falling knife.

  • Keep fingers tucked on the hand that’s holding the food when you’re cutting.

  • Never rush your staff; allow enough time to work safely.

Sprains and strains

Sprains and strains of muscles and tendons are common among food service workers. Improper lifting and repetitive motions are often associated with sprains, strains, and tear injuries in food trucks. With proper training and open communication between employees and managers, many of these injuries can be prevented. Use these tips to avoid sprains and strains while lifting loads:

  • Get help when the load is heavy, awkward, or unstable.

  • Hold the load close to your body.

  • Avoid twisting your body while lifting a heavy object.

Slips, trips, and falls

Slips and falls can occur on wet or contaminated surfaces. Common sources of slippery floors in food trucks include overspray from sinks, leaking equipment or pipes, food debris, and spills. You can prevent slip, trip, and fall injuries by taking these preventive measures:

  • Clean up spills immediately (spilled or dropped food, grease, oil, and water can be extremely dangerous).

  • Use nonslip matting on the floors.

  • Keep the aisle clear at all times.

  • Remove tripping hazards, such as cords and hoses, by storing them properly.

Wearing appropriate footwear is a useful way to avoid falls, too:

  • Wear sturdy shoes with slip-resistant soles and low heels (no leather soles, open toe, platform, or high heels).

  • Keep shoes laced and tightly tied; you can easily trip over an untied shoelace!

  • Look for a tread that channels liquid out from under the shoe to prevent hydroplaning.

Driving accidents

Learning some basic truck driving safety tips can help you get to your next destination safely. Food trucks are powerful vehicles that can be potential hazards if not handled properly. You can avoid injuring or even killing yourself or others on the road by following these suggestions:

  • Be aware of your blind spots. Other drivers may not be aware of the areas you can’t see while you’re driving your truck. Watch out for vehicles in these blind spots. Blind spots represent danger areas around your truck where crashes are more likely to occur. One-third of all crashes between trucks and cars take place because of blind spots.

  • Drive slowly in work zones. Watch out for road construction and stay alert. Work zone crashes are more likely to happen during the day. Almost one-third of fatal crashes in work zones involved trucks. Take your time going through work zones and give yourself plenty of room.

  • Always leave enough space between you and the vehicle in front of you. If you hit someone from behind, you’re typically considered at fault, regardless of the situation. Food trucks require more stopping distances than other vehicles. Take advantage of your driving height and anticipate braking situations.

  • Buckle up for safety. If you’re in a crash, a seatbelt can save your life and those around you. A seatbelt keeps you in your seat and allows you to maintain control of your truck or bus. A major cause of automotive fatalities involves being ejected from the vehicle. Wearing seatbelts is the single most effective way to save lives and reduce injures on the road.

  • Use a second vehicle. Each passenger in your truck must wear a seatbelt. This means that if you require a staff of six to operate your truck and you have only two seats with seatbelts, the additional staff members must follow the truck in another vehicle. Following this procedure will help prevent your employees from getting injured.

  • Use a spotter. Because of the size of your truck and because most of the spots you’ll be parking in weren’t designed with your truck in mind, have one of your employees assist you in parking. This person can help you avoid hitting someone or something that’s hidden in one of your blind spots.

  • Drive defensively. Avoid aggressive drivers. It’s estimated that each year, two-thirds of all traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving behaviors. Keep your distance and maintain a safe speed. The only thing speed will increase is your chance for a crash.