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The pointy end: Kitchen injury claims

Kitchens can be dangerous places, and a significant spike in national ACC claims has a Greytown chef urging caution ahead of the silly season. 

Chef and South Wairarapa councillor Martin Bosley said he was well-versed in kitchen injuries, with his worst accidents happening early in his career. 

“I lost the top of a finger cutting bacon.

“I thought I was pretty cool with my head up looking around the kitchen – next thing I knew, the top of my finger was lying on the chopping board.”

The Accident Compensation Corporation [ACC] said kitchen-related claims were at a five-year high last year. 

Nationally, ACC reported 73,730 active kitchen injury claims in 2021, totalling $74 million in compensation payouts.

However, Wairarapa bucked the national trend, with kitchen injury claims decreasing overall.

In 2021, ACC paid out more than $600,000 in kitchen-related claims to Wairarapa residents – a significant drop from the $800,000 paid in 2020. 

Masterton, with the region’s largest population, consistently topped the leaderboard for accidents in Wairarapa kitchens.

Last year saw 438 claims in the district, compared to the 90 claims from Carterton residents and 179 from those injuring themselves in South Wairarapa. 

Consequently, Masterton received the most in kitchen accident payouts, with $551,285 claimed in 2020 and $408,212 claimed last year.

ACC said nationwide, the most common accident claims in the kitchen related to soft tissue injuries, with 33,666 claims. Lacerations and puncture wounds accounted for over 19,000 claims. 

The third most common injuries were burns and fractures or dislocations, with an annual average of 4500 over the last five years.

Bosley said he also had his fair share of burns as a chef apprentice. 

“I tipped a bucket of hot fat all over my torso and thighs and had to have many years of plastic surgery to recover.”

Although injuries in commercial kitchens were the most common, Bosley said the same safety measures should apply at home.

“Pretty much everything in a kitchen can hurt you or kill you.

“If it’s not hot, it’s sharp. And if it’s not sharp, then it’s slippery. 

“There’s a lot of action going on in there, and the stress levels are always up.

“It’s frenetic, and a lot of things can go wrong.”

His top safety tips for keeping safe, especially during Christmas preparations, included keeping knives sharp, placing a wet towel under the chopping board, using the ‘claw’ technique when chopping to protect errant fingers, cleaning up spills swiftly, and pointing the handles of saucepans toward the wall. 

Helen Holt
Helen Holt
Helen Holt is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age and enjoys reporting on a variety of topics, regularly covering Wairarapa events, tourism, local businesses, and the occasional health story.

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