Sharper is Safer
You might be surprised to know that the sharper a knife's edge is, the safer it is to use.
With regard to cooking and kitchen prep work, a very sharp knife is your best friend. The reason for this is that a knife with a sharp edge can more easily slice, chop and mince through the resistance of foodstuffs. The sharper a knife's edge, the less force-of-exertion is required by the operator. Less force equals more precise results and far fewer accidents.
You need to keep your knives sharp to prevent injuries to hands and arms. By reducing the amount of force required, you reduce fatigue. This is especially important if your prep work is done in a commercial or industrial environment, where hours of continuous knifework can result in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and other repetitive stress injuries. Numerous university and independent scientific studies have been conducted that prove the use of frequently sharpened knives reduces fatigue, accidents and RSIs.
There is also the issue of injury severity based on knife sharpness. A cut from an extremely sharp knife will hurt less and heal more quickly than one from a dull knife. Surgical scalpels are kept incredibly sharp for this reason.
Sharpen your knives on a regular basis - do it more often than you think you need to. It's important, and it does matter. Kitchen prep work will become much easier, faster, and safer! It's proven.
Tips for Knife Use
Like any precision instrument, there is a right and wrong way to hold and use a knife. Grip it in your right or left hand (whichever you naturally favor), and place your index finger on the knife blade and your three remaining fingers around the knife handle. Tighten your grip on the handle and place your thumb on the opposite side of the blade from your index finger. This grip may feel strange at first and may take some practice to get used to, but it allows for greater control when cutting.
Your other hand, of course, is used to hold the food. To protect your precious fingers while guiding the food towards the knife, curl your fingers under and position them on top of the item(s) to be cut. With your hand on the item(s) and fingers safely tucked away, place the side of the knife against your knuckles. Slicing using this method greatly reduces the possibility of injury to your hands.
Knife skills are also important. Several different knife motions are common, but the one most often employed is the "see-saw" motion. Gripping the knife properly (as above), hold the tip of the knife against the cutting surface and rock the handle-end of the knife up and down, never letting the tip leave the cutting surface. Make smooth, gliding motions with the knife. With practice, you can perform this motion quickly, ensuring a very efficient and safe use of your cutlery.
Sources: onlinechef.com • www.engr.wisc.edu