Preventing burns in kitchen

857
76
Joined May 27, 2013
 
Some people just like to stay in a shit eating world. I am so glad there are people like the OP who are trying to make a difference. Without out progressive thinkers

people would still be holding pieces of meat over a fire. But then again, I guess some of us still are.
I'll try and stay away from politics, as this thread is becoming dangerously close to a discussion of governance. 

Design should be pragmatic and solve problems. The prevailing attitude in this country(USA) is that everything can be fixed, and new "innovative" products are developed, designed, and engineered to fill a need. Regardless if there is, in fact, a need or problem to be solved. Sometimes the problem isn't even identified. Much is driven by economics and free markets. Many new products create more problems instead. Products are developed to address the result of a problem, instead of looking at the cause.  Americans want their cake and eat it too. This is culturally ingrained. We want a cure for cancer, but ignore the cause. All the while spending hoards of money on research while industry gets a free pass. 

In this case, pans get hot. People get burned.  Putting a sleeve on the handle doesn't solve the real underlying problem while creating three others (waste, inventory, and cooking process alteration). Proper training and paying attention solves the immediate problem. One should assume EVERY pan on the stove or not, is hot. Accidents will happen. You're born, you die. This is life. Embrace it. 

The problem to be solved is the transference of heat from the pan to the handle - Creating high heat and have it be localized to the pan itself. This is why I suggested a material that dissipates heat fast enough not to burn skin. Doesn't exist as far as I know. Induction cooking addressed the problem of an open flame. Simple and too the point. Until a material is found to address this "problem," the only solution is to prevent human error through training and awareness.  The reason we want to solve the result of the problem instead a complete overhaul because it is perceived as being too much trouble and not financially feasible. So we take baby steps by putting bandaids on systemic problems because we think it fuels the economy. I do believe, optimistically, that this will change. Not everything is as I describe, but much is. 

Imagine commercial kitchens of the future where the application of heat to a surface to cook food is done in another way. Safer, more efficient, with the same results. Maybe the technology and materials don't exist yet. Or just change the entire brigade system of restaurant kitchens. In the mean time. . .It's still a craft that requires good old fashioned personal attention. Just like old time photography or alchemy. 

I'm sorry if I sound like a negative nancy, koak.

/end rant/
 
Last edited:

kuan

Moderator
Staff member
7,134
555
Joined Jun 11, 2001
You gotta love the forearm burns though.  Never trust a chef who doesn't have forearm burns.
 
5
10
Joined Nov 6, 2015
I don't know that designing a new product is the ticket here. I think perhaps the secret is refining an existing one. I know that I have seen and tried all manner of protective equipment from potholders, to oven mitts, to silicone "grabbers," all of which were designed to keep me from burning myself. Of the ideas you have mentioned, I think the sleeve is the best concept. However, I cannot stand having anything on my arms much below the elbow when I'm cooking. Not because of the heat, but because I am constantly reaching into bowls and all manner of containers and don't want my sleeves touching the product within. That might be something to keep in mind while working out your concept of design.
 
5,551
991
Joined Oct 10, 2005
 
You gotta love the forearm burns though.  Never trust a chef who doesn't have forearm burns.
  Huh... Last month I was at at the doctor's for a checkup.  He looks at my forearms, is horrified, and asks, "My God!  What happened?!"

I glance down at my arms and say,

"Oh those..  Convection oven., yep pretty sure its the convection.  Oil splashes from the grill are lower down and much worse. "

He looks at me like I've got antlers growing out of my nose......  . 
 
47
16
Joined Aug 8, 2015
Wow. A lot of good points from a lot of knowledgeable people. For me a side towel folded the proper way to provide layering goes in my left hand and tongs in my right. They never leave my hand. I make sure it stays dry by using a different towel to wipe rims and spills. My pan towel is an important part of my station. I dont know that i would use another product even if it was available as the side towel is second nature and just feels right. Birns happen even when being absolutely careful. Hot oil and hot pans are a hazard. If you get burned you work through it. Those that cant or dont should examine if restaurant life is for them. I believe a well designed product would be very marketable in the corporate world. I worked corporate for one year and was written up multiple times for failing to wear my cut glove. I was more likely to cut myself while wearing it because it blocked the tactile feed back those of us with knife skills become accustomed to. I agreed with the policy as many people did not have solod knife skills and the cut glove protected them and the company. I was never fired for the write ups but they existed in file along with many client emails about the high quality food i put out. I also never tried to file a comp claim and they would have been protected had i ever cut myself. There is a market for a product like that i am sure of it. I am not sure the restaurant world would adapt it but definately the corporate dining world. The big issue i have with this is people being burned by hot pan handles that they grab. The first safety lesson that should be drilled into new employees is that everything is hot. Even if it is not. Assume every rhing you go to touch in a kitchen is hot. This is the one time where assuming doesnt make an ass out of anyone. As a dishwasher i burned myself once pretty bad but the message was reciev3d loud and clear. Never grab a pan or touch anything bare handed because you never know.
 
175
49
Joined Feb 8, 2015
Didn't mean to offend anybody or trash the states.  It's just not my cup of tea anymore.  Education is great and degrees are good.  I just don't understand how any of those plans work in the real world or what the need is?  Are you going to slip off every silicon pan handle when they go to the dish pit and who puts it back on then they slip off.  Real shocker breaking news,  if you put a silicon pan handle over an open flame it gets hot.  Seriously smoking hot,  so you are training someone to trust a pan handle when if that had a towel whatever they grab they are safe.  It's black and white.  Towel, no burn,  no towel get burned.  Once again KISS.   Not to be a Debbie downer but my  "limited experience" in corporate has made me not want to go back for more.  You are a number, have meetings about meetings, have to constantly change the menu based on statistics and what your competitor's are doing, ect. To each his own, I prefer to work for a private owner where I trust him and he trusts me.  The best new corporate great idea is the online application 200 question psychological and math exam to cook food??  I'm sure a real chef had input on that. I just came on this site to get some paco jet help.  Alright,  I work enough at my job no more food talk on my free time for tonight!!!!
 
3,315
737
Joined May 5, 2010
To me there are just some things that come along with the territory.

In a kitchen with knives, hot pots and pans, slippery floors, and so on accidents are going to happen.

There really is only so much that can be done to keep those accidents from being regular. Trying to re-invent the wheel sometimes has unforeseen circumstances.

Pretty much everyone knows what HACCP (hazard analysis critical control point) is. It's been around for a while now.

I was a banquet Chef in this place that had the waitstaff carry plated and lidded dinner plates on those oval trays.

Some girls could handle 12 dinners, others only 4.

An analysis of this practice concluded that carrying plated dinners can cause unsafe posture for the carrier and can result in back problems.

A review by the HACCP team concluded that rolling carts would take care of the problem.

Plans were drawn up, carts purchased and the crew trained.

First night under the new system, all hell broke loose.

When the transition was proposed and implemented the one thing that was overlooked was that some banquets were weddings with a removable dance floor.

The floor was made as wood plates that fit together like a puzzle, but left an 1 1/2" curb that these carts couldn't traverse.

The first cart went out, hit the dance floor and 12 dinners went on the floor.After that fiasco, we had to change yet again.

So, then the carts came out of the kitchen and were abruptly stopped by the dance floor. The cart had to be left there and the dinners dispersed from there.

My point is that things must be thought through from all the angles. While I appreciate the OP and the concept, I'm not sure what a good compromise would be.
 
Last edited:

kuan

Moderator
Staff member
7,134
555
Joined Jun 11, 2001
And carts are slow.  The good banquet waiters carry twelve plates at once.  :)
 
5,551
991
Joined Oct 10, 2005
I'm feeling bad for Kristine, the o.p. as this thread has gone off on a tangent.

However I do feel that innovation and technology should be applied to kitchens and kitchen tools.  I personally feel that a pot handle that turns colour when its hot is a pretty good idea and one that is not an invention in search of a solution.

I also said in my above post that many burns--the most serious ones-- happen when straining the deep fryer.  Oil can only be strained when its hot, and N. American mnfctrs never give this second thought.  I don't mean the plumbed-in automatic filtering units that big places hook up permanently to a bank of fryers, I mean the individual fryers.  What have we got to strain a fryer?  A ball  valve three feet off the ground and a 12" length of pipe you can screw on to the valve?  So you can put a leaky pot on the floor and stick a crappy china cap and filter on top of it?  Seriously has this never been adressed?   Almost thirty years ago I working with European fryers that addressed this problem very simply and elegantly.

Mixers, the 20 qt and up variety.  Get anything caught in the shaft while its running and you're toast, even on 1st gear.  Apron strings, torchons, and hair are the usual suspects.  One woman lost her hand here in Vancouver becasue whe was wearing a bracelet and had the habit of sticking her hands in the bowl while it was running to pull out a piece of dough to see if it passed the window pane test.  Yes it's stupid, but the woman lost her hand.  All new mixers now have a safety cage, so you can't do this, not a bad idea, and not much of an inconvienience.

We all know the feeling of pain when we touch something hot, and do our best not to repeat that same mistake.  While those in the U.S. are familiar with lawsuits, many of us employers  around the world are not fighting lawyers, but gov't run worker's comp boards.  Some of the one's I experienced in europe as just as bad, if not worse than the one we have here in Vancouver.  Once an employer gets fined for not documenting training an employee to properly clean a meat slicer, that painful association will make him do all sorts of crazy things, including making his employees wear shark gloves all the time.  Can you really blame the employer? 

If it's intelligent, do it.
 
5,192
296
Joined Jul 28, 2001
Well Kristine will either change her thesis or go forward. Knowing that in her first phase of the human centered design, the subjects she will be dealing with are a bit egotistical and a little

opinionated. Just remember that the Professional Chefs can be a little pompous and not to inspiring. If your design will work in a professional setting and can be scaled for the home cook you will have a winner. Believe it or not, there was good sucess with those pliable cutting mats and ceramic knives./img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif
 
806
64
Joined Apr 5, 2007
One thing that just occurred to me:

The most common burns I have given myself over the years (aside from oil splatter, bumping hot pans, the everyday stuff) comes from industry standard spring loaded tongs.

The "gutter" on the inside of the tongs can act like a funnel for hot liquids that spill out through the open end at the "pinch."   I have been caught several times with this one. This could be something a design element to mitigate.
 
5,192
296
Joined Jul 28, 2001
@AllanMcPherson,

I'm sure there are plenty of tongs out there with round handles. This past Sunday I finished my last blacksmithing tool. I have made at least a dozen forge tongs for myself.

I'm twisting a bar grouping for a railing next. Now I'm thinking about these tongs. I think I can achieve a spring back with a basic curve. The handles will be just round bar. I will have to do the ends first, then maybe flatten a section of the middle for the spring curve and harden. I'm thinking when I used to be on the hot side I always thought some type of perforated ends would be good.


sorry, bad pics, but fish type slice or perforated ends. Maybe a ball on the ends so they won't slip out of your hands. What do you think. Is this worth trying? The handles maybe 5/16"  X  12".  The ends, similar size as normal ones and cupped a little in a swage block spoon. Who knows,

if they work and look good we can prototype from lightweight heat resistant material.
 
5,192
296
Joined Jul 28, 2001
ah, I googled heat resistant tongs. There are already a bunch out there. I did not see round handled ones, but I'm sure they are out there.

I just know from smithing that the round handles are very easy to maneuver. 
 
857
76
Joined May 27, 2013
Disclaimer: I’ve made my living with design. Professionally, not just someone with a shop in their garage. 

I agree. Commercial kitchens as well as home kitchens should benefit from innovation. But it would be naive to think every product designed is worthy of creation. All I have to say is “disposable flashlights,” or point to the myriad of products sold on TV that are a waste of materials and energy. A sleeve that changes colors does nothing for five or six pans on a stove. They will all be the same color. Hot. In the end, a sleeve might prevent 10% of burns. That, in my opinion, does not solve the problem (sleeves, btw, already exist, yes?). Maybe we should focus on changing the fact that line cooks are underpaid and work in a system that celebrates stress and pressure in a dangerous environment.

No new product should be a liability in efficiency.  Shark gloves and pot handle sleeves a liability. Corporate penny pinchers are hired and paid to reduce financial waste. Getting sued because someone cut themselves is waste. Slowing down a line or prep cook is a sacrifice they are willing to make. Then the blame goes to the underpaid, overworked cook when efficiency gets compromised. 

I did suggest, by the way, to scrap the sleeve and go with a heat sensitive handle instead. I think it would have more of an impact with home kitchens, but does little to solve the problem of line cooks grabbing a hot pan on a stove because they "forgot." Pliable cutting mats are good for the handicapped or elderly, but create plastic waste. What problem does it solve? Ceramic knives were developed to reduce sharpening, but what happens to them once they've exceeded their useful lifetime? You cannot sharpen them again. Steel can be recycled. Lets not confuse convenience with solving a real problem. 

A cage over a mixer makes a ton of sense, but you cannot design stupidity out of humans. 
 
Last edited:
101
26
Joined Nov 15, 2015
Make a towel tough as leather, with good wet or dry gripping material, blockout heat like welding gloves and easily cleanable. Maybe you should look into kevlar for this idea. Ill be happy to test out your products
 
101
26
Joined Nov 15, 2015
And as far as grip goes, you should have enough hand strength to handle anything with a towel if you work in a kitchen
 
Top Bottom