The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is responsible for enforcing kitchen health and safety regulations. These can cover many types of food business. Anywhere food and drink is prepared and served for customers needs to make sure it has a safe work environment.
Many accidents happen in kitchens every day. It’s the HSE’s responsibility to make sure that regulations are followed in order to minimise the risks. Following hygiene laws is also an important part of kitchen health & safety, but that is the responsibility of the Environmental Health Department.
Common Causes of Accidents in the Kitchen
The most common causes of injury in a commercial kitchen are from slips, trips and falls. Manual handling is also a major risk in a commercial kitchen. Failure to follow correct procedures can result in musculoskeletal injuries and exposure to hot or harmful substances.
Slips, Trips and Falls
Most slips, trips and falls in kitchens happen due to wet floors. That means it’s important to wipe up any spillages that straight away and to dry the floor.
Wet floor signs and cordoning off affected areas are steps which should be done after spillages. The same measures can be taken after mopping the floor.
Often, it’s an uneven floor or loose or damaged floor tiles which are responsible for slips and trips. That means it’s important to keep floors well maintained as well as clean. Passageways or any areas where staff might walk should also be kept free from any obstructions.
You need to pay great attention to things which you lift in the kitchen. Some items can be very heavy and difficult to move safety. Never push, pull or drag heavy items as you might suffer from a musculoskeletal injury.
Where items are heavy, ask a colleague to help you lift them. If it’s still too heavy, use a lifting device and follow health and safety guidelines on how to lift objects at work.
You need to take great care when using knives in the kitchen and also be aware of handling glass objects. You need to follow safe procedures when using knives and other sharp kitchen utensils. Similar caution should be taken when handing items made of glass. Both can cause severe injury in the form of cuts.
Exposure to Hot and Harmful Substances
Oil and other fluids such as water are commonplace in kitchens. It’s important that you are careful when working with or nearby to hot liquids.
Always make sure they are covered when not working with them. Take care when carrying any pans or containers with hot liquids in which could splash and scald. The HSE also publishes safe procedures for things like opening steam doors and the draining and cleaning of fat fryers.
Other substances which can be harmful are cleaning materials which, can cause skin rashes and conditions such as dermatitis. These types of potentially hazardous substance should be handled properly. Even handling some foods can cause dermatitis and other skin conditions such as eczema. These issues are some of the more common causes of absenteeism within the catering and hospitality industry.
Other Kitchen Safety Concerns
The risk of fire is high in a kitchen. That means it’s important that all electrical and gas appliances are fully maintained and are fit for purpose.
Proper ventilation will also be a big consideration as well as issues like climbing ladders. Therefore, it’s very imporant that you carry out a full risk assessment of your kitchen facilities. You must make sure that they meet the requirements under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998.
ll equipment used should have a British Standards Institute kitemark. The staff who are using the equipment should have been fully trained in using it.
All equipment which is connected to an electricity or gas supply should be installed by a suitably qualified engineer. Regular testing and maintenance of kitchen equipment is also vital.