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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:

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.

Where can I get more information?

General information is available in OSH Answers or through the CCOHS person-to-person Inquiries Service.

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Document last updated on July 14, 2014

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