A Recipe for Safety Success

What is your recipe for safety?

What is a functioning safety and health system? Let’s compare this system to a system used in the foodservice industry.

How does a foodservice operation assure a food menu item is served consistently and safely?

“When I meet with restaurant operators to help them with food cost control and profit help, my first question is if they have written recipes.” – Chef Lonnie Varisco: Business Development Manager for Performance Foodservice in the Greater New Orleans Area

A standardized recipe produces a specific quality and quantity of food for a specific restaurant. That recipe is unique to the restaurant and the creative ideas of the person who created the dish. 

Once that standardized recipe is created it will become one of the most powerful documents in a foodservice operation.

  • Recipes are used for training back of the house staff.
  • Recipes provide consistency in the production of menu items.
  • Recipes provide food cost control.
  • Recipes provide knowledge for front of the house staff as a sales tool and to help consumers with dietary concerns and allergies.
  • Recipes should be handed out to each back of the house line cook in a booklet specific to their station.

The measured ingredients in a recipe not only produce consistent food but control your food cost and profit. Recipes reduce waste because a cook is prepping exactly what is needed to produce the menu items.

Recipes provide portion control which is a major factor in food cost control and profit.

Studies show that incorporating food safety instructions in recipe directions improves food safety behaviors.

For readers whose hobby is cooking, the last situation you want is to make someone ill or sick from eating food that was not prepared safely.

According to Pennstate Extension website, a division of the College of Agricultural Sciences at Pennsylvania State University, here are the Key Food Safety Instructions For Recipes:

Here are the instructions:

  1. Start with clean countertops and equipment.
  2. Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds. Dry with a single-use paper towel.
  3. If fresh fruits, vegetables, or herbs are included as ingredients, place an asterisk (*) after each item in the ingredient list and use one or all the following as applicable:
  4. Gently rub fresh fruits and vegetables under cold, running water. 
  5. Scrub firm produce with a clean vegetable brush. 
  6. Prepare as directed.
  7. Prewashed, packaged items do not require further washing.
  8. Gently rinse fresh herbs under cold, running water.

For the part time chefs in the kitchen, checkout the website link:


So, why not apply the same concept to your safety and health program?

Applying Recipes to Safety

As with any successful recipe it must have steps that are in a certain order.

Here is simple recipe for your safety representative/competent person in charge of your safety and health program: 

  1. Recognize and identify the hazard and/or hazardous condition.
  1. Instruct workers, management and client of the hazard exposure and the hazardous condition.
  1. Decide if the hazard hazardous condition can be eliminated.
  1. If the exposure cannot be eliminated what type of exposure control will be implemented.
  1. Select the control: engineering, administrative, or PPE or a good selection of all.
  1. Apply the control.

Let’s review each step. 

Step 1: Recognizing the Hazard

The ability to recognize and identify a hazard and/or a hazardous condition is a necessary first step. Like a proven recipe this step has to be done.

What does it take to be able to perform this first step? A trained and educated field safety representative/competent person. Recognizing and identifying hazards comes with training and education and experience.

Hazard recognition can be accomplished thru a series of tools. Establishing a pre job assessment of work is necessary. A well thought out job safety analysis or a job hazard analysis should be implemented.

Step 2: Instruction

The word instruct: What is the definition of instruct? “To direct to do something; order, to teach (someone) how to do (something), and to furnish with information.”

Communication is key. Not only having the ability to communicate to workers but also upper management. Again, the risk assessment (JSA or JHA) must have a key component that revolves around communication.

Step 3: Decide if the Exposure Can Be Eliminated

Elimination in this context is the total removal of the hazard to cause any harm at all. An example of elimination would be doing work on the ground instead of in an elevated situation. There by eliminating the fall to lower level hazard.

Step 4: Select a Control Measure

Select a control measure that will put a barrier between the worker and the hazardous exposure. The hierarchy of safety controls is represented by the following categories:

  1. Engineering Control
  2. Administrative Control
  3. Personal Protective Equipment Control

OSHA defines these controls as follows:

  • Engineering Controls: Consist of substitution, isolation, ventilation and equipment modification. Example: reducing the risk of a hazardous dust by using a vacuum system.
  • Administrative Controls: Consist of risk assessments, inspections, audits, training, and education. Example: Having workers attend an OSHA Outreach class that discusses hazard exposure. 
  • Personal Protective Equipment Control: Consist of any piece of equipment that a worker will wear on their body. PPE is required when a separate hazard assessment determines the hazard and the type of PPE that will be appropriate for the reduction of an exposure. For example selecting the appropriate goggle to prevent a chemical splash to the eyes.

Step 5: Application of the Control Measure or a Combination of Controls.

Put these controls in place in a timely manner. Educate workers on how and why these controls will be used.

In order for a safety and health workplace to be successful, a sound process, like a good recipe, will give the organization consistency and uniformity.

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