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Avoiding knife injuries in the workplace

It’s a standing joke among chefs that knife injuries are part of the job, but knife injuries do happen very frequently, particularly in the food industry.

According to the British Safety Industry Federation, there were 43,000 reported work accidents involving knives in 2019 and 58% of all workplace accidents involving manual tools were caused by knives.

Here are some steps to help prevent these accidents from happening.

Provide the right knife

The first step to workplace knife safety and knife injury prevention is to provide employees with the most appropriate knife for the job. …

Firstly selecting the right knife for the task at hand is vital. For example, a fillet knife with a flexible blade is best for delicate fish and meat preparation whereas steak knives tend to have stronger blades that have a straight edge for making smooth, clean cuts.

When considering your choice, also think about the length of the blade required to do the task and select the shortest blade needed. Also consider blade hardness, depth, thickness and whether you can use a knife where the blade is round-ended where a sharp point isn’t needed for example.

Another factor to consider is the ergonomics of the handle and if it is well suited for both left- and right-handed users.

As part of selecting the right knife for the task, you should involve potential users of the knives and use feedback to make sure the best knives are being used for the tasks required.

Ensure good training

Ensure that all staff using knives have good, clear and regularly refreshed training about using knives.

Make sure staff keep fingers and thumbs away from the blade with knuckles sticking further out than fingertips when gripping an item.

You should never cut toward yourself.

It should be repeatedly communicated that knives should not be carried point forward but held with the blade pointing downwards and they should not be waved around in busy environments. Obvious, but notices and regular reminders of these simple habits do reduce accidents.

Provide a good work surface

Ensuring surfaces are clean and dry and that appropriate cutting surfaces are used is also important. Make sure cutting boards are secure and don’t slip during use.

You can see our range of colour-coded cutting boards in our brochure, p.16

Inspect the knife before use. …

It’s important to make sure the knife is sharp. Some people think using a dull knife is safer. But a dull knife requires you to push harder, making the knife more likely to slip and for an accident to happen. Instead, make sure your knife is sharp (there are many sharpening devices you can buy) and focus on using the proper technique. And make sure the knife is clean and that the handles are dry to prevent the knife from slipping.

Provide good PPE

Cut-resistant gloves are helpful and many nowadays do allow a good amount of dexterity for tasks that are more delicate and require more control.

See our full range here:

Also don’t forget that safety footwear, and ensuring floors are clean and dry or appropriate wet floor signage is in place are particularly important safety measures to have in place in areas where staff are using knives.

Proper storage

Ensuring knives are properly stored should involve

  • Ensuring blades are protected, either in a draw, a block or on a magnetic wall strip

  • Ensuring that it is clear if a knife is missing from the storage location at the end of a shift. Missing knives tucked out of sight or in water are often a cause of injury.

You can see more detailed guidance on avoiding knife injuries from the BSIF here:

As always our team are happy to help you find the right solutions for your workplace. Contact us at or call 01726 74264.


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