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What does a cook do?

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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?

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Working with food presents its own unique set of potential hazards. Some of the main ones are:

What are some preventive measures for cooks?

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  • 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.
  • Do not exceed the capacity of the shelves when storing food or supplies.
  • 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.
  • Establish good housekeeping practices.
  • Learn safe handling and storage procedures before working with hazardous products.
  • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment, including safety shoes with non-skid soles, and eye protection.
  • Keep a first-aid kit within easy access.
  • Learn fire safety and emergency evacuation procedures, including how to assist customers when evacuating.
  • Do not block fire-exits and fire-extinguishers.
  • 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?

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  • Practice safe lifting techniques.
  • Find ways to minimize musculoskeletal disorders on the job.
  • 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. Follow labels, and read the safety data sheet (SDS) for any hazardous product that you use and follow recommended safety precautions.

  • Fact sheet last revised: 2018-02-20