10 Proven Knife Safety Tips for Accident Prone Chefs

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knife safety

Knife safety measures are there for a reason…

Did you know, every year, as scores of people barge into an emergency room, over 35% bears kitchen knife wounds?

For a chef, the nicks and abrasions are inevitable hazards of the job.

You were chopping onions, and someone distracted you to chop the tip off your nail. Or perhaps, as you were busy peeling the potatoes, the knife slipped and peeled a layer off your finger.

In any event, if you haven’t earned the badge of slash, you have yet to prove yours!

That said, many professional chefs, having been through a trial themselves, believes most can easily be avoided with a little precaution.

On a popular social site, a professional cook shared his knife incidents stating that in his decade of experience, most of his injuries were the result of fleeting attention.

When you are working with full concentration, you rarely cut yourself with a decent knife, but when you’re distracted it gets more likely.” said, Tilman Ahr.

Jamie Oliver, one of the top celebrity chefs, gave an interview to HelloMagazine where he exclusively mentioned the do’s and don’ts of taking out an avocado pit—yes, avocado!

In his opinion, a surprising number of people injure themselves because they attempt to pull out the pit while holding it in their palms.

The above are merely two examples among many, and in this article, we are going to share ten such knife safety tips.

10 Knife Safety Tips to Prevent Your Hand from Injury

1.Get Familiar with Basic Knife Skills

Knife skills, or lack of, can incredibly affect your chances of injury.

If one is unaware of the correct way to slice, dice, and julienne, the experience can turn particularly gory—as it happened in the case of an accident-prone cook.

Recalling one incident to the Guardian, the author said, as she was slicing a tomato unconcerned her four fingers slipped, splitting open the skin brutely.

The incident could have been prevented if she was folding her fingers while cutting the tomato.

There are certain knife safety rules in the kitchen.

For one, grip the handle, not the blade.

Many subconsciously place their index finger on the spine of the blade apparently to add strength, which actually does the opposite. The correct way is to retain your grip on the handle or up to the bolster.

Second, fold the fingers of your other hand into a claw shape while chopping or slicing—as seen in the above image.

For vertical slicing or cutting small wedges, create a bridge with your finger and thumb and use a small knife to slice between the bridge.

To chop herbs, instead of holding the bunch, use a cross chopping technique to protect your hands.

Lastly, avoid scraping food from the cutting board with a knife, unless you are well equipped with your knife.

2. Pay Attention To your Cutting Board

Handling a knife is a dicey business.

Draw your eyes away for a second, and you might need an emergency duct tape.

It takes years of practice to reach the place where you could nonchalantly chop vegetables and admire the overlooking garden, simultaneously.

So, unless one has earned the experience to compete with the surreal knife skills of Master Chef Hiroyuki Terada, it’s best to practice focus as a precaution.

To improve your concentration, leave enough time for meal prep, and settle all your pending chores before moving to your cutting board.

If something else is taking away your attention, such a preoccupied mind or a bustling kitchen, leave the cutting board until you are ready to focus on the task.

And, beware of chatty colleagues. Out of all the fatal distractions, gossip is uppermost.

3.Choose A knife that Compliments your Task

When you feel the need to tear something, make sure you’re choosing the correct tool for that particular task.

De-veining a shrimp with a chef’s knife is a disaster waiting to happen. Similarly, slicing the bread with a paring knife would tear the texture altogether.

On the occasion where a specific knife is not available, follow the thumb rule;

Use a paring knife for small cutting, a serrating knife for dual texture ingredients, and a chef’s knife for large tasks.

4.Keep Your Knife Sharp

Contrary to popular belief, a dull knife is more hazardous than a sharp one.

As dull knives tend to demands more force, your fingers could slip over the knife-edge in the process, cutting your finger.

A Sharp knife, on the other hand, requires a light touch and is relatively easier to manage.

In fact, you might even say a razor-sharp knife can inadvertently act as a protector! Because, when noticing a sharp object, your subconscious mind becomes even more conscious, keeping you alert for any impending injury.

Don’t let the knife turn dull. Sharpen your knife now and then as a safety rule.

 If a professional is available for the job, all the better.

5.Avoid Using Your Palm as A Cutting Board

Remember about the avocado reference? Using a palm as a cutting board is an oddly common practice that most often results in a laceration.

In a discussion about knife injuries on Reddit, one shared his unfortunate incident with the avocado.

In his words, while taking out the pit, the knife caught him unaware, cutting right through the avocado and into his waiting palm.

Another related similar experience, only the subject was a tomato.

If Carte blanche is your style, you might want to shed that habit as soon as possible. Because, nothing good comes out of slicing a potato while holding it in your palm.

6.Use A Non-Slip Under the Cutting Board

Imagine, while chopping onions, your cutting board shifts sideways. What would follow suit?

Cutting board is an extremely essential accessory, yet is not ideal for a marble slab as it risks slipping.

Since almost all the kitchen slabs have a slippery surface, lay a non-slip material under the board to steady it.

Anything from a Paper towel, damp rag, non-slip mat, or rubber liners, can work well as an anti-slip.

7.Use Your Knife for Food Only

It’s fairly common to pick up a knife and cut the seal of a food package instead of kitchen shears, or split open a can when can opener isn’t available.

But, in reality, when you’re using a naked knife for such tasks, your hand is not the only part exposed to harm. 

In 2019, a UK government health agency published a post on the kitchen knife safety measures.

Among the useful tips, they mentioned a  case study, which was admittedly eye-opening.

As a chef was tearing open the potato bag with a fillet knife, the weight of potatoes caused his knife to slip and hit his face. As a result, he suffered heavy lesions.

It’s always advisable to use safe tools singularly designed for the job.

8.Wash Your Knife Promptly and Store It Separately

When one is intensely focused on a job, everything seems fades away into the background—Including an abandoned knife lying nearby.

A knife is a dangerous tool, but an aimless knife is formidable.

If it’s concealed among the dirty dishes, you could cut your finger dishwashing. If a bunch of knives is shoved haphazardly in the drawers, they’re practically waiting to stab someone.

Protect yourself by employing the following three self-made protocol.

  • Hand washes your knives right away.
  • Wipe the droplets and tug the knife into the wooden block immediately afterward.
  • In the absence of a knife block, use a spacious drawer, especially for knives

The above steps will surprisingly serve you a dual purpose—securing you and the knife, both.

9.Mind your Wandering Knife

While working on a hectic schedule, forgetfulness is understandable.

You forgot to season the beef.

You forgot to take the frozen food out of the refrigerator.

Or, you forgot to put the knife down, waving it around as you scurry from one place to another.

The first two can be rectified without much trouble. But the last one could prove deadly.

Since a knife is essential for multiple tasks, the best thing you could do is develop a habit of letting the knife arm fall as you move around.

That could save other’s skin as much as yours.

Secondly, try not to catch the knife wobbling down the counter.

Avoiding instincts is understandably difficult, and it may take some serious practice. But by putting considerable hours on it, almost any habit can be broken.

Besides, as cutlery is bound to fall at one point, a damaged knife seems far better than a ruptured tendon.

10.Wear Chef Shoes to Protect Your Toes

If you are a home cook and get the opportunity to visit a professional chef in his terrain, notice the shoes they are wearing.

Most likely they would be wearing clogs.

In a bustling kitchen, where knives are cluttered around, accidents are regrettably imminent.

One oblivious elbow to a knife sitting at the counter edge, and the next thing you know, there’s a knife embedded in your foot.

As one-third of insurance claims in the Restaurants are often of knife injuries, the first thing the companies do is issue policies regarding wearing protective gear to their staff.

Among them, one is protective shoes.

The hardy shoes have a thick covering on the toes to protect them from heavy or sharp objects, while the anti-slip sole keeps them steady on the wet floor.

They are durable, comfortable, and, best of all, safe from knives!

Wrapping up the article, follow the above Ten knife safety tips, and you would be surprised at the dwindling rate of your injuries.

Want to know about the super time saving kitchen tools? Check out our blog on smart kitchen appliances.