Dumb work injuries

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big_adventure

What impulse control?
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Working in a kitchen, almost 30 years ago, at the time, we cleaned the deep fryers at night, after service.

You'd drain the oil, then carry out a stockpot with 50 lbs or more of oil to dump into the oil disposal dumpster out back. Thing is, the oil was still 350F or so at the time you'd do this - we didn't do it every shift, but when we did it, we did it during normal cleanup.

One night it was storming pretty hard (this was in Florida) and I was handling the cleanup on a saturday night. The restaurant and bar were still packed with drinkers, dessert people, but the hot food was finished. I drained the oil, then carried the pot back to the back door. It had a slam bar on it to open, and also a deadbolt, but that was generally left unlocked during a shift. Well, the bad habit I had was to just push the pot against the bar to open the door. Unfortunately, someone had locked the deadbolt, so all of my force rebounded back against me and the pot. The oil in the pot gyrated, and the floor, thanks to water leaking in or being tracked in from the storm, mixed with post-long-day kitchen floor, was basically an ice skating rink. I tumbled over backwards, covering myself with 350F oil. Fortunately, it avoided my face and only a tiny splash burned my neck. I had unfortunately removed my work jacket fr cleanup, and only had a short-sleeved shirt on underneath. Once I managed to get myself out of the lake of burning oil, I stood, pulled off my shirt and pants and shoes, then plunged myself into the dish sink. Second and third degree burns on my arms, from about mid bicep to hands. Really not fun. Weeks of peeling dead crispy skin and ruined blisters off, and slathering it all multiple times a day with silver sulfadine.

Lesson for the restaurant: we never changed fryer oil again at night post-shift.

Lesson for me: make sure the deadbolt isn't locked before trying to slam yourself through a door.
 

GorillaGrunt

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I lace my boots paratrooper style because I’ve heard, luckily haven’t had to test it so far, that if something happens to the foot it’s easier to get the boots off cutting down the middle of the laces that way.

A few months ago I cut an artery in my finger, was rushing and totally grabbed a cleaver wrong, the heel got me. I had just started keeping clotting powder in my bag so it was all good, but I was freaking out for a couple minutes there.

The guy who got me started wearing shorts in the kitchen told me that if you do that you’ll burn yourself on the legs somehow or other from time to time, and just to remember that that’s the price of wearing shorts. After a couple months I eventually dropped a sauté pan with a piece of fish and way too much oil; it landed flat on the bottom, which was good, and splashed hot oil up the inside of my leg, which was bad. First thought through my head was that spiel, I don’t think I even swore, and kept wearing shorts.

@big_adventure @stringer glad you guys came out ok!
 

Luftmensch

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I once pulled a giant colander of cooked pasta out of a boiling steam jacketed kettle. One of those 5 gallon countertop models. The brake mechanism failed and the whole thing tipped over. It went down the fronts of my legs and filled up my shoes. They were lace ups and it took several minutes to get the shoes off. I had to get skin grafts on both feet.
Fuuuuuuuuuu**

That is not a dumb work injury. That is equipment failure. I hope the employer made the situation good and treated you like a king. Sounds excruciating :( I hope the graft went well and you regained full sensation and mobility. I bet it was a long recovery.
 

Luftmensch

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Once I managed to get myself out of the lake of burning oil, I stood, pulled off my shirt and pants and shoes, then plunged myself into the dish sink. Second and third degree burns on my arms, from about mid bicep to hands. Really not fun. Weeks of peeling dead crispy skin and ruined blisters off, and slathering it all multiple times a day with silver sulfadine.
Yeah man... these stories make me shudder. That would have been an awful few weeks. I hope the scarring isnt too bad!
 

Bigbbaillie

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Lesson for the restaurant: we never changed fryer oil again at night post-shift.
I don't understand how any restaurant is allowed to have employees do this. This should be just as much of a no brainer as not storing raw chicken inside of salad greens.
Honestly would rather have botulism than to be covered in third degree burns from fryer oil.
 

Luftmensch

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I am not levelling this at anyone in particular - but a few hand injuries have been mentioned.

Be careful.... really careful. Being 'tough' could cost you medically. If your hands are your income... ask yourself if finishing the shift is worth putting that at risk!

Tendons on the fingers are not deep at all. If you lacerate your fingers or palm it doesnt take much to reach those tendons. The extensor tendons allow you to 'open' your fingers. The flexor tendons allow you to 'close' your fingers into a balled grip. Both of these are vulnerable. Many of the muscles that perform these movements are actually in your forearm - you can imagine how long these tendons are. If you think about how strong your grip can be, you can also imagine how much tension the tendons can carry.

Of course the best case scenario is that you miss important parts of your anatomy.

But injuries can be ambiguous. If you just rupture or nick a tendon you may still have mobility. It might not seem like anything is wrong (other than pain). If you respect the injury and see a doctor, the intervention is both cheap and relatively quick. Splint your finger for a few weeks. After that period, go easy on the injury as it gathers strength (you should be doing physio).

If you dont respect the injury, your luck can run out. Remember how much tension you can put on those tendons? If you dismiss it as a small cut and keep working, you might fully tear the tendon along the injury. All that tension will release and the two ends could separate by several centimetres. Now you will need invasive surgery in a delicate area. The surgeon will have to open your hand like a glove and go digging around to find the severed ends! Neither cheap nor a quick fix!

If you get the impression your mobility is at risk, be smart!
 

Luftmensch

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I don't understand how any restaurant is allowed to have employees do this.
I wanted to say that too... it is an OH&S nightmare. Definitely an accident waiting to happen. I chose not to say it because I didn't want @big_adventure to feel bad, after the accident :(

But there is definitely value in flagging it as an issue. If any other chefs are currently being asked to do the same thing. They should refuse on safety grounds and work with management to adjust the cleaning/maintenance schedule for when the fryer is cool enough to handle safely.
 

GorillaGrunt

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I worked at a place where we’d change hot oil, made the fryer easier to clean, but we did it as a squad: one go to the back door and hold it open, one going ahead of the guy with the oil calling to clear a path and then to open the drums, and the oil carrier. Seemed a bit extra, and then I read the above story...
 

Bigbbaillie

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I worked at a place where we’d change hot oil, made the fryer easier to clean, but we did it as a squad: one go to the back door and hold it open, one going ahead of the guy with the oil calling to clear a path and then to open the drums, and the oil carrier. Seemed a bit extra, and then I read the above story...
I still don't understand this. Like sure you remove some variables, but now worst case 3 people get third degree burns.
 

big_adventure

What impulse control?
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I don't understand how any restaurant is allowed to have employees do this. This should be just as much of a no brainer as not storing raw chicken inside of salad greens.
Honestly would rather have botulism than to be covered in third degree burns from fryer oil.
I know! It was completely idiotic. It was the first restaurant I worked at, and I was young, so I didn't think of the potential problems and risks. One of the other line cooks added "I've always thought it was stupid and dangerous that we did that the night of." Thanks, man, thanks a ton for that one, maybe it would have been good to mention this before, non?

I got pretty lucky with the scarring: a) my skin has always been great at healing and b) treatment was excellent. There was some very distinct and visible scarring, mostly around my wrists, but that's pretty much completely faded in the ensuing three decades. Also, most of both arms are covered in tattoos now, so the remaining mottling isn't really visible. :D

The pain was exquisite. They kept giving me more and more morphine, up to the max (at the time) of 20 units over a couple of hours and it didn't do anything. They then added 60 of Tordiol which basically broke back of the pain enough for the morphine to work. I fell into a silly place for a while after that. It took them a few hours to dedicate enough treatment for me, some poor dude was in a house fire at the same time and had 3rd degrees over 85% of his entire body. I got off exceedingly light by comparison.
 

Matthew Dodge

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I have actually only cut myself twice with a knife. Once cutting green onions while on pain killers from surgery. Went back to work a little earlier than I should have. The second was prying open a industrial dish soap pale....
 

Matthew Dodge

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I know! It was completely idiotic. It was the first restaurant I worked at, and I was young, so I didn't think of the potential problems and risks. One of the other line cooks added "I've always thought it was stupid and dangerous that we did that the night of." Thanks, man, thanks a ton for that one, maybe it would have been good to mention this before, non?

I got pretty lucky with the scarring: a) my skin has always been great at healing and b) treatment was excellent. There was some very distinct and visible scarring, mostly around my wrists, but that's pretty much completely faded in the ensuing three decades. Also, most of both arms are covered in tattoos now, so the remaining mottling isn't really visible. :D

The pain was exquisite. They kept giving me more and more morphine, up to the max (at the time) of 20 units over a couple of hours and it didn't do anything. They then added 60 of Tordiol which basically broke back of the pain enough for the morphine to work. I fell into a silly place for a while after that. It took them a few hours to dedicate enough treatment for me, some poor dude was in a house fire at the same time and had 3rd degrees over 85% of his entire body. I got off exceedingly light by comparison.
Yeah I lost all the skin on my right hand at a chain when I was a teenager also healed well. Didn't get good drugs tho. WSIB fined the he'll out of them over 100k I got less than 200
 

big_adventure

What impulse control?
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Yeah I lost all the skin on my right hand at a chain when I was a teenager also healed well. Didn't get good drugs tho. WSIB fined the he'll out of them over 100k I got less than 200
I didn't get anything, as I didn't attack them. I also don't think they were fined at all - they paid for my medical care and paid me my wages while I was stuck at home in bed. I'm 99% certain that no case was ever opened with any state agency.

They welcomed me back to work when I was ready - I worked significantly more FoH after, but still kitchened some.
 

Matthew Dodge

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I didn't get anything, as I didn't attack them. I also don't think they were fined at all - they paid for my medical care and paid me my wages while I was stuck at home in bed. I'm 99% certain that no case was ever opened with any state agency.

They welcomed me back to work when I was ready - I worked significantly more FoH after, but still kitchened some.
Here in Ontario you hurt yourself at work and receive medical treatment loss of wages go through the WSIB if they decide to investigate the accident and fine a place is completely out of the employees hands. As I said in a post earlier I cut my finger once as well. I didn't want to fill out a form because I knew I wasn't going to be out of work and the nurse insisted it was the law. Not exactly true but I was 16 when I burnt my hand and that is what they would have you believe.
 

big_adventure

What impulse control?
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Here in Ontario you hurt yourself at work and receive medical treatment loss of wages go through the WSIB if they decide to investigate the accident and fine a place is completely out of the employees hands. As I said in a post earlier I cut my finger once as well. I didn't want to fill out a form because I knew I wasn't going to be out of work and the nurse insisted it was the law. Not exactly true but I was 16 when I burnt my hand and that is what they would have you believe.
Yeah, for mine they just never reported it. Pretty sure the owner of the place paid my care out of pocket.
 

Matthew Dodge

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Yeah, for mine they just never reported it. Pretty sure the owner of the place paid my care out of pocket.
Probably better your way for all involved. Ontario government would be upset as they didn't get to profit off your injury. I have often wondered where the money from that massive fine the company I worked for goes.
 

big_adventure

What impulse control?
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Probably better your way for all involved. Ontario government would be upset as they didn't get to profit off your injury. I have often wondered where the money from that massive fine the company I worked for goes.
To pay for the agency who goes around charging massive fines, of course! :D

I'm not a litigious soul by nature. My bosses treated me well, the accident was at least partially my fault, and everything was eventually fine anyway. Suing them and damaging their business would have only hurt... 99% of the people involved, including a third of the people I called "friends" at that point in my life.
 
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