OSH Answers Fact Sheets
Easy-to-read, question-and-answer fact sheets covering a wide range of workplace health and safety topics, from hazards to diseases to ergonomics to workplace promotion. MORE ABOUT >
What does a cook do?
The main duties of cooks in restaurants, hotels, healthcare facilities and schools include the following:
- Plan and prepare menus, and determine food portions and quantities needed.
- Pay attention to special dietary needs, if applicable.
- Monitor and order supplies.
- Clean up kitchen or work area.
- Supervise kitchen staff.
What are some health and safety issues for cooks?
Working with food presents its own unique set of potential hazards. Some of the main ones are:
- Handling raw meat and poultry.
- Exposure to cleaning products, pest control products, or other chemicals.
- Working in awkward positions or performing repetitive manual tasks.
- Excessive standing.
- Lifting or carrying heavy trays.
- Risk of accidental radiation leaks from microwave ovens.
- Working in extreme temperatures.
- Working with knives, mincers, and other dangerous tools or equipment.
- Risk of burns or fire from ovens, deep-fat fryers, and steam from pots.
- Slips, trips and falls.
- Working alone.
What are some preventive measures for cooks?
- Wash hands frequently.
- Learn safe lifting techniques.
- Know how to work with all equipment and tools required for the job.
- Keep the work area tidy.
- Conduct regular inspections of the equipment and identify defects. Have equipment removed from service until fixed or replaced.
- Take breaks. Change tasks to reduce repetitive strain injuries.
- Wear appropriate personal protective equipment, including safety shoes with non-skid soles, and eye protection.
- Keep a first-aid kit within easy access.
- Keep a mobile phone or other alternative means to contact a designated person when working alone.
- Know how to report hazards.
What are some good general safe work practices?
- Practice safe lifting techniques.
- Inspect the work area before each shift.
- Exercise caution when working with knives and other sharp equipment.
- Store tools in the designated areas after use.
- Use, maintain and store personal protective equipment according to manufacturers' recommendations.
- Follow company safety rules.
- Follow good housekeeping procedures.
- Participate in WHMIS education and training. Read the material safety data sheet (MSDS) for any hazardous product that you use and follow recommended safety precautions.
Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, CCOHS does not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current. CCOHS is not liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the information.