By Karly Kolaja 2016-01-25 08:47:03
How do you treat a cut? When should you call 911? What do you do if a coworker is choking? School Nutrition answers these questions and more. WHEN YOU THINK OF DANGEROUS JOBS, WHAT COMES TO MIND? Roofer? Logger? Combination exotic animal trainer/veterinarian? All valid candidates, certainly, but would you add foodservice professional to that list? You should , because working in commercial and non-commercial kitchens carries quite a few inherent risks of their own. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 67,000 food preparation and serving employees hurt themselves badly enough to lose at least one day of work in 2008. More than 56% of these injuries were from cuts, burns, sprains or strains, while nearly 32% were from repetitive injuries to their hands or wrists, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis. Of course, these aren’t all occurring in school kitchens, but it shows how great the risk is between the burners. When you work among 400-degree ovens, rapidly moving sharp knives and pots of boiling liquid—and do so in a time-pressured, high-stress environment—there’s potential for injury in any school foodservice kitchen. And while you can certainly nick your finger chopping onions at home, cooking professionally increases the likelihood of getting hurt. As a pro, you simply spend more time working in risky situations (and we’re willing to bet some of you already have the battle scars to prove it). Now, we’re not telling you this to scare you—we certainly don’t want you to fear going into work—but we do want you to acknowledge the risk and have the knowledge to address unfortunate accidents should they involve you, your staff or your coworkers. Although you may not be able to handle every kitchen injury (sometimes, you must call in the medical professionals!), you can equip yourself to deal with many incidents. School Nutrition is here to teach you some tricks of the trade—but remember to always talk to a medical professional to varify basic procedures, and call emergency services whenever necessary or if you are in doubt. Safety First First-aid and kitchens go hand in hand—working as a foodservice professional is dangerous. Knowing how to treat minor burns, administer CPR and take charge in the event that someone suffers an injury are crucial parts to keeping everyone as safe as possible. While we hope we’ve provided some great tips throughout this piece, nothing can beat hands-on training. Enroll yourself and, if possible, your staff in first-aid classes to gain confidence in responding to a variety of medical emergencies. Each require different reactions. Even with training, there are key steps to take in each serious medical situation: Call your school nurse (if available, he or she could be able to provide crucial medical care), inform the injured person’s emergency contact, especially if the individual is being taken to the hospital, and, if you’re a manager, file paperwork with HR (reporting workplace injuries is an OSHA requirement). Most important, take care of yourself and your coworkers in the kitchen. Keep an eye out for any potential hazards and do your best to avoid them. Be smart, develop a plan and stay safe! Quiz: Allergic Reactions As a foodservice professional, you should be pretty familiar with food allergies and keeping your customers safe. But how much do you know about first aid for an allergic reaction? Let’s test your knowledge and see. Severe allergic reactions cause: A. Swollen lips, tongue or throat B. Difficulty breathing or wheezing C. Fast heartbeat or pulse D. All of the above Answer: D. All of the above—and then some. Other symptoms of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) include tightness in the throat, anxiety, dizziness, nausea, abdominal pain, loss of consciousness, shock, a fast heartbeat and hoarseness or trouble speaking. For mild allergy symptoms of your own, you should: A. Take a few minutes and wait for them to pass B. Ignore them—they’re easy to power through C. Treat them with appropriate medicines D. See how they’re developing, and then decide what to do Answer: C. Many individuals with mild or moderate allergies probably can power through minor allergic reactions, but shouldn’t. Staying on top of them will allow you to feel as healthy as possible. For hives, try an over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamine, and for itchy, watery eyes, use OTC allergy drops. If you have a minor allergic rash, treat it with a cold compress and an OTC hydrocortisone cream. If your symptoms worsen, contact a medical professional. Call 911 immediately if you begin developing any symptoms of a severe reaction. The first step in treating a severe allergic reaction is: A. Laying the person flat on their back B. Calling 911 C. Administering a cold compress to their forehead D. Elevating the head above the heart Answer: B. If you suspect that your coworker (or a customer) is having a severe reaction, immediately call for emergency medical help. You should also swiftly administer CPR (see page 22) if the person stops breathing. If he or she has a history of severe reactions, it’s likely they’ll have epinephrine on hand, in which case, you should inject it. Make sure you read and follow patient instructions carefully when administering epinephrine. Enroll in a first aid class or training that will cover how to properly give an epinephrine shot—it’s always better to be prepared than to be helpless in a crisis. Top Tips: Slips and Falls Between spilled liquids, moving bodies and wet dishes, school kitchens can be a dangerously slippery environment. If someone on your team goes down, you’re going to need to know how to assess the situation, help out and, if necessary, provide treatment. Here are some tips for dealing with a tumble: STAY CALM. There’s a natural instinct to panic when someone you care about takes a fall, but you need to keep a cool head on your shoulders to deal with the situation. Stressing out will only make it worse. IF SOMEONE GOES DOWN, ENCOURAGE HER TO STAY DOWN FOR A FEW MOMENTS, AT LEAST. She needs to be sure she is able to stand. If she can, make sure she does so slowly. If she can’t, get professional medical help. If she’s become unconscious or if the injuries are clearly severe, dial 911. CONVERSELY, DON’T ASSUME THAT IF SOMEONE GETS UP, BRUSHES HIMSELF OFF AND WALKS AWAY THAT HE ACTUALLY FEELS OK. Your colleague could be in serious pain and too embarrassed about the fall to admit it. Ask if he needs help, and encourage him to take a few moments to assess whether there is more than a bruised ego. IT MAY TAKE SOME TIME FOR THE FULL EXTENT OF FALL-RELATED INJURIES TO BECOME APPARENT. Keep an eye on the person who slipped, and be on the lookout for loss of consciousness, seizures, a large hematoma (goose egg) on the head, severe pain/headaches, pupil dilation, weakness, dizziness, vomiting, memory loss and severe bleeding. All of these indicate that the person may have suffered a serious injury; in which case, you should call 911. 5 Steps to Safety: Sprains, Strains and Broken Bones Bone and muscle injuries can be common in school kitchens, often the result of a fall or an accident with equipment. Because they happen fairly frequently, note these five steps for handling a strain, sprain or broken bone. Step One. Assess the situation—find out where the injury is located and do your best to figure out whether it is a strain (overstretched or torn muscle or tendon), sprain (overstretched and partially torn ligament) or broken bone. A coworker may have a break if she or he has difficulty moving the injured part or heard or felt a bone snap. Broken bones are also very painful to the touch and can cause the body part to move in an unnatural way. Strains and sprains, on the other hand, are (slightly) less painful and may result in swelling and bruising. Step Two. Contact your school nurse, if available. He or she will be able to aid in caring for your coworker and figuring out what kind of injury occurred. Step Three. If you suspect a broken bone, place cold packs or bags of ice wrapped in cloth around the injury and arrange for someone to take the person to the nearest emergency room. If a coworker has an injury near the neck or back or a bone protruding through the skin, dial 911 immediately. Protruding bones may result in bleeding; in which case put on sterile, non-latex gloves and apply pressure with gauze. Step Four. If you suspect a sprain or strain, begin the RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation) treatment. Encourage your coworker to rest, give her or him cold compresses or ice packs to apply and keep the injured part above heart level. Your school nurse should be able to supply an elastic bandage, if you don’t have one in the kitchen. Step Five. If you’re confused as to the nature of the injury (it can be difficult to tell the difference between a sprain and a break), arrange for someone to take the injured person to the ER. An X-ray will help determine what’s wrong. How-To: CPR CPR comes into play when someone’s breathing or heartbeat has stopped. If one of your coworkers is unresponsive, you may need to jump in and use it. While we can give you the basics, we strongly encourage you to take a CPR class! Here are the fundamentals: The first step in any situation requiring CPR is to call 911. If you’re alone, call before beginning CPR; if a coworker is with you, have him or her call while you begin. If you are untrained or lacking confidence in your abilities, the American Heart Association recommends that you provide hands-only CPR. That means that you’ll need to provide about 100 uninterrupted chest compressions a minute until emergency medical help arrives. Put the injured person on her back on a firm surface. Kneel next to her neck and shoulders and place the heel of one of your hands over the center of her chest. Place the other hand on top. Straighten your arms, position your shoulders above your hands and, using your upper body weight, push straight down on the chest at least 2 inches. Worried about maintaining those 100 compressions a minute? The American Heart Association put together an entire playlist of songs that’ll keep you on beat, even if you’re just singing them in your head. Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love,” Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” and “I’ll Take You There” by the Staple Singers are a few of these “heart-y” chart toppers—you can find the whole list at www.heart.org/handsonlycpr. If you’re trained and confident in your ability, go ahead and add breath steps. Start with 30 chest compressions before checking the airway and giving mouth-to-mouth or mouth-to-nose rescue breaths. Fact or Fiction: Burns Sunburns, rug burns, unfortunate hot glue-gun accident burns—chances are we’ve all experienced at least one of these painful little buggers at some point. But have you ever dealt with a burn in your school kitchen? And do you know what to do if one occurs? Let’s find out! True or False: Burns aren’t serious injuries. FALSE! While some burns may cause only minor pain, others can be life-threatening. First-degree burns are the least serious and involve only the outer layer of skin. Second- and third-degree burns are progressively more serious, with third-degree burns involving all layers of skin and underlying fat. Third-degree burns can even affect muscle and bone. True or False: All burns look alike. FALSE! Different burn degrees have different effects on the body. First-degree burns can cause swelling, redness and pain, while second-degree burns may result in blisters, swelling, pain and red, white or splotchy skin. Third-degree burns, however, can cause the skin to turn white or char. A severely burned person may have difficulty breathing and may not experience pain because his or her nerve endings have been destroyed. True or False: You should be able to successfully treat minor burns in the kitchen. TRUE! To treat a minor burn, run the area under cool (not cold) water for 10 to 15 minutes or apply a clean, damp towel. Try not to break any blisters. If they break on their own, clean the area with mild soap and water, apply an antibiotic ointment and cover it with a nonstick bandage. For pain relief, look to an aloe vera lotion or gel. You also can take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen. If, however, you develop large blisters, suspect an infection or have a minor burn over a large or sensitive area of your body, seek medical attention. True or False: Major burns require emergency care. TRUE! To treat a major burn, call 911 immediately. Check the burned person for signs of circulation problems and begin CPR, if necessary. Burns swell rapidly, so be sure to remove belts, jewelry and other restricted items from the burned area. If possible, elevate the wounded area above the heart level and use a moist, cool bandage or clean cloth to cover it. Don’t, however, immerse severe burns in cold water—this could cause a major loss of body heat or a drop in blood flow. Must-Know Facts: Choking Choking is serious business. While it might not seem like an immediate hazard for a foodservice worker , it’s more likely to happen than you think. It’s also a concern among your student customers. So, what are some must-know facts about choking in the kitchen and cafeteria? Read on to find out. • Choking cuts off oxygen to the brain, so it’s vital to administer first aid as quickly as you can. Someone who’s choking can’t speak; instead, he’ll probably clutch his hands to his throat. • Inability to talk, loss of consciousness, blue skin, lips and nails, inability to cough forcefully and difficulty or noisy breathing are all indications of choking. • The Red Cross recommends a “five-and-five” approach to first aid for choking. First, give five back blows between the person’s shoulder blades with the heel of your hand. Then, perform five abdominal thrusts (aka the Heimlich maneuver). Alternate between five back blows and five thrusts. If you haven’t learned the back-blow technique, it’s OK to use just the Heimlich maneuver. • To perform the Heimlich, stand behind the person. The Mayo Clinic recommends wrapping your arms around her waist and tipping her forward slightly. Make a fist with one hand and place it slightly above her navel. Grab your fist with your other hand and press into the abdomen with a quick, hard, upward thrust. You should feel as if you’re trying to lift the person up. • Remember, time is of the essence with choking. So, if you’re the only other person present, perform the five-and-five back blows and abdominal thrusts before calling 911. But, if another person is available, have him or her immediately call for help while you perform first aid. • If the person choking becomes unconscious, you have to perform CPR with chest compressions and rescue breaths. Check to see if the blockage is visible in the back of the throat. If so, reach a finger into the mouth and sweep it out. But be careful not to push the food deeper into the airway • CPR should be performed even if you’re able to dislodge the blockage in an unconscious person’s throat. If you can’t, sure to check periodically to see if the item has moved, though, as chest compressions used in CPR may dislodge it. TO YOUR CREDIT: For CEUs toward the SNA Certification in School Nutrition, complete the “To Your Credit” test on page 58. BONUS WEB CONTENT It’s important to know how to treat an injury, but even more valuable to know how to prevent one. Visit www.schoolnutrition.org/snmagazinebonuscontent for tips on how to stop an accident in the kitchen before one even begins. Karly Kolaja is a freelance writer based in Bethel, Conn. Photography by Thinkstock.
Published by School Nutrition Association. View All Articles.