Avoiding Hand Injuries in the Kitchen

We are aware that we should exercise caution to prevent job-related injuries at work. However, many injuries happen at home, especially in the kitchen. Hand injuries are some of the worst kind. Cut hand tendons and ligaments are not only painful, but extremely hard to restore through surgery.

Our hands are our “money makers.” Without their proper use, life is much more difficult. Not only at work, but when at home, too, we should take the proper precautions whenever performing a task that involves a blade (like cutting, chopping, or peeling) – even if the task does not seem “dangerous.” Here’s a great video showing some basic kitchen knife techniques – the cross chop and the rock chop.

Recently, attention has been drawn to the injury known as “avocado hand.” This is what surgeons and doctors call hands that have been lacerated by a knife while slicing an avocado. Click HERE to watch a video on how to prevent “avocado hand.” Instead of holding the avocado with your bare hand, you can use a damp towel or a cutting board to slice the avocado and remove the pit.

Some general safe knife handling procedures are:

  • ALWAYS cut away from you and you will never cut yourself;
  • ALWAYS use the right knife for the job – use a small knife to cut something small;
  • ALWAYS stabilize what you are cutting, and cut in a way that protects your fingertips (keep your middle knuckle more forward to guard the blade);
  • ALWAYS use a sharp knife – they take less force to cut so you have more control of the knife. To keep knives sharp, store them where they can’t bang other utensils and don’t wash them in the dishwasher;
  • ALWAYS using a cutting board instead of holding the fruit/vegetable in your hand and cutting towards your thumb. Wooden cutting boards won’t dull your knife. Stabilize the board by putting a damp cloth underneath it;
  • ALWAYS put the knife down, facing away from you, when starting another task with your hands, like peeling off the avocado skin;
  • ALWAYS dry your hands before using a knife if your hands are slippery; and
  • ALWAYS use the correct tool – don’t try to chop frozen foods with a knife – let them defrost or use the microwave, then cut.