Knife gloves and name badges

You can call me “Agency Worker”...


Yes, I do a bit of agency work. I used to do a lot of agency work back in the day and it was a novelty for a while. You don’t know where you’re going and you don’t know what you’ll be cooking until you get there. It can be exciting and some of the things you see are bonkers, properly.

This particular company are super keen on health and safety to the extreme, which is better than the opposite extreme, and I’ve seen that too. Believe me. I’ll save those stories for when I am well in the clear and maybe I’ll write an actual book.

Any chef who’s done temporary work will know exactly the name of the company I’m hiding under my thumb, the knife glove is a massive give away, but I think I’ll keep it under my hat for everywhere I go.

Before I leave the house I make sure to pack the correct forms of identification and security checks. On arrival I get escorted to the office where I’m given a thick stack of paper. It’s a safety/security/safeguarding document that I need to read and sign before I start, then a document confirming that the chef has given me the first document for me to sign. I sign that one too thinking maybe I should have arrived half an hour earlier, but hey, it’s all necessary since I’ll be here for two whole days.

Then I’m issued my knife glove and “name badge”.  I crack a little joke like “Hello, I’m Agency Worker 1”. Then I hang my head and sign the document that says I got issued a knife glove and name badge.

Oh, and if you are wondering what a knife glove is, well, here it comes... 

Chefs use knives, and knives are sharp. Knives cut fingers if the chef is an idiot or his (or her) knife is blunt, but more commonly chefs cut themselves when cleaning stuff or grabbing the cling film box in a hurry. When a chef cuts his finger in an establishment like this he must find an accident book and write in it what he cut his finger on, why he cut it on that thing, and what he did about it to rectify the problem. The report must then be countersigned by the kitchen manager and sent off to head office where they will count the numbers and decide whether there is a problem and whether or not to put safety measures in place to minimize accidents or paperwork or leave from work due to an accident etc.

This is all very much a pain in the bum for everybody involved. Solution? Knife glove and disciplinary action for anybody not wearing one and wielding a blade at the same time.

Trouble is the knife glove is thick, and porous. So you need to wear a latex glove over the top to waterproof the situation. It is much easier to shave the fingertip off the top of a latex glove than it is to shave off your actual fingertip. So now you are forever picking tiny blue strips of your outer glove out of whatever you are chopping with a massive gloved hand and fingers with an extra wide girth, and replacing your waterproof glove before your knife glove soaks up too much food juice.

Fun? No. Health and safety gone crackers? I think so, but who am I?! I have no accident book data, no company knowledge, and absolutely no right to air my opinion on the situation. I am “Agency Worker”. Knife glove on, other glove on, wearing my badge and picking plastic out of your dinner with pride. Here today, gone tomorrow.