The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) works to ensure that commercial catering premises follow health and safety regulations. Their remit includes a variety of businesses using a commercial kitchen, including cafes and restaurants, pubs and hotels, contract catering companies and fast food chains.
The HSE’s main task is to minimise risk in a working environment where accidents occur on a daily basis, and it is in the interests of all commercial kitchen owners and staff to follow guidelines and regulations. This can include or exclude food hygiene, for which the Environmental Health Department is responsible.
Most of the guidelines are common sense, but employers can be penalised if they are found to have not followed the regulations. Furthermore, workplace accidents are inconvenient for everyone involved, and they can be painful and cost time and money. It is the responsibility of employers to make sure that all staff have received basic health and safety training and the responsibility of staff to follow the rules.
How Accidents Happen in the Kitchen
The most common kitchen accidents are trips, slips, falls and incidents involving manual handling, The results are most often musculoskeletal injuries, burns and exposure to harmful substances.
Wet floors are the usual culprit in these cases, so cleaning and drying up any spillages as soon as they occur is the golden rule. If this is not possible, at least use a ‘wet floor’ sign or cordon off the offending area. It’s also important to make sure the floor is well maintained to avoid having uneven surfaces and loose tiles. Clearing walkways of obstacles can also help to keep staff on their feet.
Gas and Electrics
All electric and gas appliances fitted in a commercial kitchen must be suitable for professional use, such as those sold by catering equipment suppliers such as Fridge Freezer Direct. Items such as commercial chest freezers and ovens also need adequate ventilation. The installation of any appliances should be conducted by a qualified engineer, and they should be tested regularly. The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998 includes a set of guidelines to which kitchen owners should adhere, and all devices should bear a kite mark from the British Standards Institute.
Take great care when lifting and manoeuvring heavy and unwieldy objects in the kitchen. If you have any doubts about your ability to handle an object safely, ask someone else to help you or request a lifting device.
Knives and glass objects are the source of regular cuts and grazes sustained while working in the kitchen, but kitchen staff should have been given training in basic health and safety procedures so that they understand how to treat these occurrences.
Hot and Harmful Substances
Hot fluids and oil are used in kitchens every day but can be very dangerous. When being carried or when not in use, they should be covered to avoid splashes and scalds. Similar care needs to be taken when opening the doors of steam devices. Cleaning materials can also be harmful, causing contact dermatitis or other skin rashes.