A Proactive Kitchen Helps To Minimize Equipment Risks

proactive kitchen
Article by Jeff Becker, VP-Sales & Branch Development, Day & Nite / All Service

Last month I spent time providing Total Food Service readers with insight into common refrigeration issues and the value that preventative maintenance can provide in order to best impact your total cost of ownership.

As operators, we have all experienced safety issues or equipment issues that can create a great deal of risk.  Whether it is a steam burn due to gaskets not being properly maintained or an Ansul system being set off as a result of a fryer flue being blocked, it is vital to take proactive steps to minimize the risk to your associates, assets and customers.

One of the most vivid memories I have is working a line with a 440-volt electric broiler that suddenly began shooting flames not related to any grease buildup in the unit.  Luckily, there were no injuries, however when an internal facilities generalist was dispatched to assess and repair, we assumed that the unit was operational.

When we returned the broiler to service, one of my cooks suffered 3rd degree burns because the generalist was not trained on this type of equipment. This led to a workman’s compensation claim, but more seriously an unnecessary injury to a valuable member of my team.

Understanding that our employees should be considered our most important asset, it is vital that we provide them with a safe and optimal work environment.

In turn, employees should be held accountable to properly utilizing and maintaining the assets that they are provided to effectively perform their work functions. Through daily use, it is important to proactively look for problems that fall into the following areas:

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Water can create a costly danger to kitchen equipment.  When cleaning, it is important to never spray operational components of equipment with a hose.  As you would expect, the risk to electrical equipment compared to gas is much greater.  With technology driven equipment such as combi ovens, it is important to recognize the need to carefully clean around the computer components.


When working with this type of fuel, educating your team on basic working principles should be part of your standard operating procedures.  Do all employees know who to call if they smell gas? If a pilot light repeatedly doesn’t light, is there a cook who has figured out an ingenious work-around with unknown consequences?  Did you know that black soot on the bottoms of pots is a sign of an improperly balanced flame on an open burner? Organizations that demonstrate a culture of safety understand the risks associated with gas and the ability to mitigate this through effective preventative maintenance that will check for gas pressure and leaks as well as calibrate temperature and heating elements.


When inspecting your facility, actively look for exposed wires.  One of the most common problems we find during a preventative maintenance inspection is a lack of grounding due to the prong in the plug having fallen or broken off.  This has the potential to electrocute someone should it not be repaired immediately.  We have seen chefs who will cut the plugs off of electrical equipment should wires be exposed or lacking grounding in order to prevent an injury.  While some might think water is the number one cause of failure with electrical equipment, it is in fact heat. As such, factory recommended preventative maintenance is an efficient means to minimize this risk. 

When I contemplate the cost of doing business in the foodservice industry, minimizing exposure and identifying risks is necessary to sustain predictable profitability. As such, maintaining assets through a proper preventative maintenance platform helps to insure against safety and lost revenue. 

Jeff Becker is the VP-Sales & Branch Development, Day & Nite / All Service. Prior to joining the company he served in several roles with Aramark. You can forward service questions to him at jbecker@dayniteall.com.