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Kitchen Workplace Safety

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 17 May 2017 | 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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[Add a Comment]
Hey. I'm 17 years old apprentice chef. I'm just wondering if I could be left alone in the kitchen at work without other chefs or staff. So could I like do the last two hours of service myself? Me and my colleagues don't want to be breaking the law so was considering if I could be left and do food orders etc by myself
kyle - 17-May-17 @ 2:42 PM
Billy - Your Question:
I am an apprentice chef at a resturant. My shifts are mostly 2pm -10pm 5 days a week. Me and another work mate close the kitchen at 10 but can a 17 year old close a kitchen on their own

Our Response:
You would need to read the terms and conditions of your contract and/or employees' handbook - which may include your job description.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 12-May-17 @ 2:48 PM
I am an apprentice chef at a resturant. My shifts are mostly 2pm -10pm 5 days a week. Me and another work mate close the kitchen at 10 but can a 17 year old close a kitchen on their own
Billy - 5-May-17 @ 2:55 PM
My son works in a commercial bakery. He is over 6 foot and has been having severe backaches from stooping. Is there a regulation height for preparation surfaces in professional kitchens?
Ian - 21-Apr-17 @ 11:06 AM
Hi I am looking for advice, another member of staff as her 8 year old son on the premises of a busy restaurant/takeaway service. I am worried he could get hurt and shes busy working shes no clue what hes doing. Is this against the law? I do not know what to do. I have bought it up with my employer and had no reply.
Neil - 13-Apr-17 @ 1:17 PM
I work in a big supermarket commercial bakery (in store). Everyone leaves for home at 1 o'clock and I'm in the bakery on my own for 5 hours. I have to use the mixers and hot plates. Health and safety wise is this legal? As I do feel a bit vulnerable should an accident occur.
Darly - 8-Apr-17 @ 8:22 AM
Could you tell me if you work with a commercial dish washer,should it be on the floor or on a counter ,...
Nicky - 24-Feb-17 @ 4:18 AM
I cook at an old persons home .The dish washer is a commercial one ,but it is on the floor and not raise up .it has caused back pain ,and I'm not sure I can work there for long .what can I do ,I am sure it should be on the counter like the dish washers in restaurants.?
Nicky - 24-Feb-17 @ 4:12 AM
Hi I work in a place without a kitchen sink. There is a dishwasher and a hot tap but no sink. We do not prepare food for the public, only for our breaks. I can't find any guidance on this. Thanks
Elsie - 19-Feb-17 @ 4:06 AM
Hi I'm just wondering if it is legal for someone to work alone in a school kitchen for an hour or so? The kitchen is detached from the school and there is no contact with anyone in this hour.
Kay - 8-Feb-17 @ 10:14 AM
I work in a small bakery kitchen from 7am till 2pm with another person we do breakfast as in bacon sausage and egg and we also do pie peas and gravy and cold sandwiches now my boss want to drop one person on this day and wants me to work on my own is that legal as we cook all the products fresh every day as well as me serving customers and cleaning the premises
Anj76 - 28-Jan-17 @ 7:43 AM
me - Your Question:
Hi, my son works in a care home kitchen and has just been told that they will no longer provide safety boots, which they have for the past 8 years. He has been told that if he wants them he must get them himself. Your opinion please.

Our Response:
It depends upon what is in the terms of his contract. If the contract says the company must provide safety boots, then until your son agrees otherwise, they would be obligated to provide them. If there is no mention in the contract, then his employers are at liberty to be able to change their minds.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 11-Jan-17 @ 12:19 PM
Hi, my son works in a care home kitchen and has just been told that they will no longer provide safety boots, which they have for the past 8 years.He has been told that if he wants them he must get them himself.Your opinion please.
me - 10-Jan-17 @ 3:23 PM
hi i work in a cafe and i do notlike what i am and doing because i am on the pot wash and i want to find a different job can you help me and i am form burnley
becky - 9-Jan-17 @ 2:46 PM
rogue one - Your Question:
I work at a burger place and recently our grill had a gas leak, my college had to call out an independent gas engineer to tell us that this was so bad if the electrics went it could of caused a explosion. our system that is turned on every morning that detects any faults in the extraction fans, gas leaks ect has been broken and from day one of me working there (1 year). summer time of this year the operations were defiant it was fixed which didn't make sense because red light always appears when there is always a fault. operations way of dealing with this issue of now a grill not in use and in order to stay open for business as usual at all costs. placing another big grill on top of the already broken one.this may not seem an issue at first but let's consider the height at which its being used, for one of my colleagues who's 5ft4 sits at the top of their chest. me personally am 5ft11 and find this height quite strenuous on my shoulders, aching and the fat spits onto my arms burning them quite often. many times we rotate on this grill because it's so strenuous. would like to know thoughts on this and should something be done as employers stand at negligence.

Our Response:
The only thing you can do is bring this up to your employer directly and your employer should attempt to resove this. You should also have a health and safety manual in your workplace that you can consult. However, if you feel your employer may be breaching health and safety protocol, and is ignoring concerns and requests to resolve particular issues, then you can contact the HSE to report your concern, please see link here.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 22-Dec-16 @ 10:50 AM
I work at a burger place and recently our grill had a gas leak, my college had to call out an independent gas engineer to tell us that this was so bad if the electrics went it could of caused a explosion. our system that is turned on every morning that detects any faults in the extraction fans, gas leaks ect has been broken and from day one of me working there (1 year). summer time of this year the operations were defiant it was fixed which didn't make sense because red light always appears when there is always a fault. operations way of dealing with this issue of now a grill not in use and in order to stay open for business as usual at all costs.... placing another big grill on top of the already broken one. this may not seem an issue at first but let's consider the height at which its being used,for one of my colleagues who's 5ft4 sits at the top of their chest. me personally am 5ft11 and find this height quite strenuous on my shoulders, aching and the fat spits onto my arms burning them quite often. many times we rotate on this grill because it's so strenuous. would like to know thoughts on this and should something be done as employers stand at negligence.
rogue one - 21-Dec-16 @ 5:34 PM
My son is 17 years old and is a cateringapprentice in a well known hotel chain. He is regularly rostered to cover the early breakfast shift which requires him to be working alone in the kitchen for around 3 hours. Is this acceptable or appropriate or even legal?
jacko - 20-Dec-16 @ 8:21 PM
Hi, I suffered a double fracture to my wrist and am trying to find out if I should be working back in a kitchen without having had a risk assessment carried out by an occupational health person, can anyone help as I am expected to be in the kitchen alone with the added responsibility of looking after helpers with special needs.
Tina - 29-Sep-16 @ 5:24 PM
Hi Is it a legal requirement to have an eye wash station in a restaurant kitchen for emergencies involving hot oil from the fryer? Thanks
Vicky - 11-Sep-16 @ 3:42 PM
Tudorrose47- Your Question:
Hi please can you advise. ? Is it a legal requirement for a cafe that can hold up to 100 customers to have double doors into and out of the kitchen. Where I work only has one door and it swung back yesterday and trapped my foot. Also as customers stand right nxt to the door waiting for their coffee to be made at the counter there is the risk of hot soup etc being spilt on them , to be frank I think it's a accident waiting to happen.

Our Response:
Your employer must do what they can to ensure safety in the workplace, and trips and slips are one of the most frequent occurances in the catering/hospitality industry, please see HSE link here. I can only suggest you list it in your health and safety manual/ and/or bring this up with your employer so they can can put preventative measures in place.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 31-Aug-16 @ 12:36 PM
Hiplease can you advise. ? Is it a legal requirement for a cafe that can hold up to 100customersto have doubledoors into and out of the kitchen.Where I work only has one door and it swung back yesterdayand trappedmy foot. Also as customersstand right nxt to the door waiting for their coffee to be made at the counter there is the risk of hot soup etc being spilt on them , to be frank I think it's a accidentwaiting to happen.
Tudorrose47 - 30-Aug-16 @ 5:20 PM
I wanted to ask if it is legal to have 3 under 18 year olds working unsupervised in a commercial kitchen. There is a bar manager out the front but no one is in the kitchen with these kids
Kitchen aid - 16-Jul-16 @ 10:25 AM
@Opal - you have to have glassware in kitchens such as glasses for drinks etc, wine bars have lots of glassware. I imagine your company has done a risk assessment?
PammY363 - 9-May-16 @ 11:07 AM
Hi. We have a lot of glass were in our kitchen at work. It is used for cooking. In places where I have worked in the past glass ware as always been a big NO NO. Wework in an old fashionedbog standard kitchen serving any thing up to 100 meals a day. So I'm asking is it safe to have glass in the kitchen?
Opal - 8-May-16 @ 9:13 AM
Hi. We have a17 year old apprentice in the hotel kitchen who does the 5.30am breakfast shift by himself. Is this legal?
Sweep - 28-Feb-16 @ 6:09 PM
@handyman - I don't see why you can't put this near the sink I have an electricity socket and a fridge plugged in right next to my sink put in by professional builders.
Robb - 9-Feb-16 @ 2:01 PM
I have shelves to put up in a kitchen, and the intention is to put a small music system on one of the shelves and a light unit. i am concerned that live electrical items should not be on a shelf near a sink. the shelves would not be directly over the sink but on the same wall but over to the right. are there any regulations that apply here?
handyman - 9-Feb-16 @ 9:17 AM
I work as a chef in a childrens nursery , can i stop all staff and management entering the kitchen, without protective clothing , they go to the fridge, or use the kettle, or to get cups for children, childrens medicine is stored in my fridge also, these people get in my way and take liberties, what's my rights as a employee ?
canary - 4-Feb-16 @ 3:22 PM
Is it agents the law to work in a large cattering copy by yourself to cook clean and serve customerby yourself with nobody to help
none - 7-Dec-15 @ 10:26 PM
jade - Your Question:
I recently burnt myself in work on a pizza oven door that didn't close properly and fell open on to my arm, the outside of the oven door was roasting hot and that's what burnt my arm, I'm now left with a scar on my arm. I know new ovens are now triple insulated so they don't get hot but is there any legal requirements on oven doors? Should the ovens in work be replaced with new safer ones?

Our Response:
You may find more information via the HSE catering and hospitality site here. Alternatively, you would have to contact them directly.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 21-Oct-15 @ 11:21 AM
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