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Kitchen Workplace Safety

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 11 Jul 2019 | comments*Discuss
 
Kitchen Workplace Safety Common

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is responsible for enforcing commercial catering health and safety regulations which can cover a wide ranging spectrum of businesses including pubs, hotels, restaurants, cafes, fast food outlets, bistros, contract caterers and others where food and drink is prepared and served for the general public. Many accidents occur in kitchens every day and it is the HSE’s responsibility to ensure that regulations are adhered to in order to minimise the risks. Of course, hygiene in the kitchen is also an integral part of kitchen workplace safety but that is the responsibility of the Environment Health Department which will be covered in a separate article contained on this website.

Common Causes of Accidents in the Kitchen

The predominant causes of injury in a commercial kitchen are from slips, trips and falls, manual handling which can result in musculoskeletal injuries and exposure to hot or harmful substances.

Slips, Trips and Falls

Most slips, trips and falls in kitchens occur due to wet floors so it’s important to wipe up any spillages that occur immediately and to dry the floor. Warning signs saying ‘wet floor’ and even cordoning off certain areas are actions which should also be taken after spillages or after mopping the floor during cleaning until it is dry. Often, it’s an uneven floor or loose or damaged floor tiles which are responsible for slips and trips so it’s necessary to keep floors well maintained as well as clean and passageways or any areas where staff might walk should be kept free from any obstructions or obstacles.

Manual Handling

You need to pay great attention to things which you lift in the kitchen, especially as certain items can be extremely heavy and/or difficult to manoeuvre. 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 and, if it’s still too heavy, use a lifting device in addition to following basic health and safety guidelines on how to lift objects.

Cuts

You need to take great care when using knives in the kitchen and also beware of glass objects. You need to follow safe procedures when using knives and other sharp kitchen utensils and when handling items made of glass as both can cause severe damage in the form of cuts.

Exposure to Hot and Harmful Substances

Oil and other fluids such as water are commonplace in kitchens and it’s important that you take extreme care when working with or in close proximity to hot liquids. Always ensure they are covered when not directly working with them and be careful when carrying any pans or containers with hot liquids in which could splash and scald either yourself or fellow workers. The HSE also publishes safe procedures for things like opening steam doors and the draining and cleaning of fat fryers, for example. Other substances which can be harmful are cleaning materials which, if handled incorrectly, can cause skin rashes and conditions such as dermatitis. Even handling certain foods can cause dermatitis and other skin conditions such as eczema and these are some of the more common causes of absenteeism within the catering and hospitality industry.

Other Areas of Concern

The risk of fire is never that far away in a kitchen so it’s important that all electrical and gas appliances are fully maintained and are fit and suitable for the job. Proper ventilation will also be a major consideration as well as issues like climbing ladders. Therefore, it’s imperative that you carry out a full risk assessment of your kitchen facilities and ensure that they meet the requirements under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998 and that all equipment used is authorised, bears a British Standards Institute kitemark or an alternative equivalent and that the staff who are using the equipment have been fully trained and are competent in using it. Additionally, all equipment which is connected to an electricity or gas supply should be installed by a suitably qualified engineer and be subjected to regular testing by an appropriate professional.

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Does a small kitchen with no windows and all electric appliances (no gas) require any ventilation/extraction by law?
Max - 11-Jul-19 @ 12:08 PM
Hello, can anyone tell me if there is anything i can do about working alone?. I work in a supermarket cafe, i have been working on my own from 3-6 every shift, i am still expected to cook, serve food, make and serve drinks, wash up and put them away aswel as doing dates putting prep out for the next day, sweeping, mopping and general cleaning all on my own. I messaged my boss a few times saying i will be stopping food as i cant do it all (customers complaining about waiting at the till whilst im cooking and others because im on the till and they're waiting for food for a while because im serving drinks) he said i can get sacked if i stop serving food surely i cant legally have to do all of this and keep food running on my own?
Nic - 5-Jul-19 @ 8:21 PM
Hello I work in a supermarket cafe and recently it’s just came to my attention that I haven’t had the full training to cook(even though I can) I’ve been told I have to sign a piece of paper stating I know how to use the equipment and know how to clean it and being safe while using it is this ilegal?
Murrayben - 15-Jun-19 @ 2:41 PM
Please can anyone advise if there is a regulation as to the minimum height a sink should be in a commercial catering business (Cafe). Where i work the sink bottom is below my knees and i am 5"9 and really suffering washing up etc/
Sinkie - 11-Jun-19 @ 10:18 PM
Hi i work in school kitchen we do things that need deep fat frying but have no dryers so have to do it in oven I don't feel safe doing this as it a very busy kitchen and worry about spilling it. What should I do. I have had no training on ovens. Just general catering assistant.
Na - 15-Nov-18 @ 9:08 AM
My manager at work asks me to clean hot food display multideck while it’s plugged in and on. The heat wave has caused skin irratation on my hands. I told them that we can clean it after turning it off but they want it on during my shift and want me to clean it. Please advise who should I report as it’s clearly against health and safety regulations. Thank you
Liza - 26-Sep-18 @ 10:24 PM
HiIf my employer supplies kitchen equipment and I hurt myself are they liable eg if I get burnt on a sandwich toaster making my lunch, or pour hot water over myself making a cup of tea?Also if they supply milk and it goes off and I use it are they liable or me if I become ill?Thanks
HELICOPTER1 - 20-Sep-18 @ 4:35 PM
Kylie - Your Question:
Hi I work in a nursery as a cook and I need to know if chef uniforms are covered under PPE pls

Our Response:
PE does not include: ordinary working clothes or uniforms not designed to provide for the health or safety of workers/ clothing provided for food hygiene purposes.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 14-Aug-18 @ 9:34 AM
Hi I work in a nursery as a cook and i need to know if chef uniforms are covered under PPE pls
Kylie - 13-Aug-18 @ 7:28 AM
Ryan - Your Question:
Hello,I recently started working in a pub and according to their policy I should have 25 hours of training but I will only be getting 15 and be placed into a kitchen on my own which I am not fit enough yo be in a kitchen on my own, this is due to anxiety, depression and honestly I don't feel safe being in a kitchen on my own. Is there anything I could do as an employee to be in a kitchen with someone.

Our Response:
You would have to speak to your employer directly about your lack of training and your concerns about being left alone.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 23-Jul-18 @ 11:13 AM
Hello, I recently started working in a pub and according to their policy I should have 25 hours of training but I will only be getting 15 and be placed into a kitchen on my own which I am not fit enough yo be in a kitchen on my own, this is due to anxiety, depression and honestly I don't feel safe being in a kitchen on my own. Is there anything I could do as an employee to be in a kitchen with someone.
Ryan - 22-Jul-18 @ 12:28 PM
Hello can anyone advise on how many staff we are meant to have legally in a kitchen? I work in a secondary school with over 1000 students plus staff we have 200 plus free school meals children inc in that figurewe now have only 8 staff to run a kitchen and 2 of those are expected to just serve the food in a 6th form canteen the other 6 cook and prepare breakfast,sandwiches salads and hot meals . We originally had over 12 staffpeople have left or been scaled and they are refusing to replace them at all.
Tiredkitchenstaff - 19-Jul-18 @ 2:44 PM
Sos - Your Question:
I work in a Kitchen. I'm the only one, we have no waitresses. Just me, to cook, clean, do all the paperwork. I only get one day off a week (which I usually get made to forfeit). I'm not allowed holidays or any significant time off. My fan is broken, as a result is is too loud to work. I think I may have got hearing damage from it. When the boss complains about the noise, they turn it off and it becomes to hot and hard to breathe. I am struggling and don't know what todo.

Our Response:
If you’re a worker and you’ve tried solving a problem or concern informally by talking to your manager but you’re not satisfied, you can make a formal complaint in writing, please see link here .
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 1-Jun-18 @ 2:02 PM
I work in a Kitchen. I'm the only one, we have no waitresses. Just me, to cook, clean, do all the paperwork. I only get one day off a week (which I usually get made to forfeit). I'm not allowed holidays or any significant time off. My fan is broken, as a result is is too loud to work. I think I may have got hearing damage from it. When the boss complains about the noise, they turn it off and it becomes to hot and hard to breathe. I am struggling and don't know what todo.
Sos - 28-May-18 @ 7:31 PM
Lucy - Your Question:
Hi. My brother works as kitchen porter at the hotel. The dishwasher is broken and they make them to wash everything in hands. It is very busy environment with 200 guests in the house so very hard job without dishwasher but also against food safety. I advised my brother to refuse to work under these conditions. is it legal to refuse to work under such a conditions where employer is asking kitchen porters to was everything with hands??? At the hotel with 155 rooms???

Our Response:
Your brother would have to approach his employer directly to try to solve this issue informally. If his employer refuses to listen, then he can raise a grievance, please see link here .
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 11-May-18 @ 9:38 AM
Hi. My brother works as kitchen porter at the hotel. The dishwasher is broken and they make them to wash everything in hands. It is very busy environment with 200 guests in the house so very hard job without dishwasher but also against food safety. I advised my brother to refuse to work under these conditions. is it legal to refuse to work under such a conditions where employer is asking kitchen porters to was everything with hands??? At the hotel with 155 rooms???
Lucy - 10-May-18 @ 2:51 PM
Hi I work in a supermarket but in cafesection. I just wondering if we allow to have a bottle of water? Itgets hot in the cafe, that Ihaven’t got time to go off the shop to go all the way up stairs as we are so short staff !
Cafe assistant - 5-May-18 @ 10:25 PM
I have just started working in a kitchen in a Hospice. I was aware before I took the job that one of the staff worked on her own over weekend shifts - I understood that to be her choice. Since starting it appears that we are all expected to work on our own in turn during breakfast and supper service. I am not happy about this and was wondering if lone working in a commercial kitchen is legal practice. Thank you for any advice
Likemindedfool - 16-Apr-18 @ 5:25 PM
I work in a cafe as a cook and the manager as told the cleaners that they can go in to the cafe and make drinks for people when they still have the same Tabards on after there been cleaning the toilets my opinion it shouldn't happen and she as told any work collages the same that they can go in and make there own drinks I'am I right to say no
Andy - 12-Apr-18 @ 8:21 PM
My son works in a kitchen at a popular high street diner. He often does 22 hour shifts with just one break. He has recently been asked to do two 8 hour shifts back to back This can’t be legal I think I am right in saying he should get 8 hours between shifts? On an 8 hour shift he gets no lunch break. He doesn’t eat He just gets a couple of 5 min drink or loo breaks here and there. Can you clarify the law please He needs to see a manager about it this week and we need to Be certain of his rights He doesn’t want to lose his job dondoesnt want to make waves
Tee - 25-Mar-18 @ 9:26 AM
I work as a mid day supervisor.. we take turns to serve lunches from heated trolleys with heat lamps on them too.we are serving for about 2 hours,and our boss has refused to let us have water in bottles or water breaks at all...is this legal..??
Gemima - 14-Mar-18 @ 7:18 PM
Bob - Your Question:
I work in a pub kitchen and the extractor fan has stopped work over a week ago my boss isn't getting it fixed, we continue to work in the kitchen while using gas appliances and deep fat fryers, I figure this must be illegal but I risk getting sacked for refusing to work in this condition. If it was a modem extractor we wouldn't have gas without the extractor, is there anyone I can contact that will make sure the law is being upheld as I fear working like this is going to be bad for my health and all the other chefs

Our Response:
If you’re a worker and you’ve tried solving a problem or concern informally by talking to your manager but you’re not satisfied, you can make a formal grievance complaint in writing, please see link here.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 2-Mar-18 @ 1:46 PM
I work in a pub kitchen and the extractor fan has stopped work over a week ago my boss isn't getting it fixed, we continue to work in the kitchen while using gas appliances and deep fat fryers, i figure this must be illegal but i risk getting sacked for refusing to work in this condition. If it was a modem extractor we wouldn't have gas without the extractor, is there anyone I can contact that will make sure the law is being upheld as i fear working like this is going to be bad for my health and all the other chefs
Bob - 1-Mar-18 @ 10:03 AM
Hey, my boyfriend works in a kitchen in a pub and the manager has recently been making him work by himself doing long shifts 10-12 hours over the past week or so a the other chef has been away What i would like to know Is it ok for one person to be opening and closing the kitchen by himself as someone had informed me that it was illegal for him to do it alone.
Monique - 17-Feb-18 @ 11:38 AM
This article is factually incorrect. Enforcement of Health and Safety in commercial kitchens such as those in pubs, restaurants, hotels, bars, fall to the Local Authority not HSE.
SC - 9-Feb-18 @ 12:31 PM
Is there any guidance or regulation about how many volunteers work in a Community Cafe? I have heard there is an upper limit of 3 people working in the Cafe kitchen but have been unable to find this information to check. Thanks for your help.
WeeFi - 3-Nov-17 @ 11:06 AM
Tootsie69 - Your Question:
My daughter lives in council home and her kitchen is in a terrible state she has complained for years as the cupboard doors av fallen off an her sink is literally sinking she has two small children and one of the doors fell on one if them when she opened to get some biscuits is there anything she can do to get a new kitchen?

Our Response:
Unfortunately, we can only direct you to the gov.uk site here where she can contact the housing ombudsman if she has had no result from the council directly.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 7-Sep-17 @ 3:53 PM
My daughter lives in council home and her kitchen is in a terrible state she has complained for years as the cupboard doors av fallen off an her sink is literally sinking she has two small children and one of the doors fell on one if them when she opened to get some biscuits is there anything she can do to get a new kitchen?
Tootsie69 - 6-Sep-17 @ 11:12 PM
I volunteer at a soup kitchen is there a clothing regulation that says you can't wear sleeveless blouses? Thank you Kathy
Kathy - 8-Aug-17 @ 5:04 AM
I work every sunday as cook for 9 hours on my own in a care home cooking for residents and staff .is there a rule for safety that I should have a kitchen assistant to help me,i don't have anyone so I do everything and I find it very difficultand strenuous,by the end of my day I feel very tired.is there a law please can you help .
Kras - 30-Jul-17 @ 3:12 PM
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