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Kitchen Workplace Safety

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 28 May 2018 | 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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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
Likemindedfool - Your Question:
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

Our Response:
You would have to look at the terms and conditions of your contract and what you have agreed to when taking the job. If lone working forms part of it, then you are obliged to keep to the terms of the contract.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 17-Apr-18 @ 11:55 AM
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
Tee - Your Question:
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 backThis can’t be legalI 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 eatHe just gets a couple of 5 min drink or loo breaks here and there.Can you clarify the law pleaseHe needs to see a manager about it this week and we need toBe certain of his rights He doesn’t want to lose his job dondoesnt want to make waves

Our Response:
You would have to read the terms and conditions of his contract to see whether your son has signed to opt out of the 48 hour working week. Please also see gov.uk link here , which will explain further.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 26-Mar-18 @ 2:36 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
James - Your Question:
Hello all, I will try to make this brief but have researched as much as possible before asking this, so no silly answers please. For the past 7 years I’ve worked in a commercial kitchen, the work is great but 2 years ago an elderly gentleman 66 years old was asked to be our head chef as he is somewhat a friend of the owner.Now all good for about a year, then we start to notice he’s coughing a lot more, struggling to lift and will not accept or show that he needs help. The food is always cooked but watching him do it can be painful, if not uncomfortable. As it’s awkward not being able to help him or have him take help I.e moving a 15kg bag of potatoes for example. (I know what most are thinking, don’t take work away from him, blah blah) however it must come to a point when your unable to keep doing the work as it happens this past 6 months he has been really rundown and to be blunt my employer will be offended should we raise this with them. I have scoured the internet and council websites to see if indeed there is an upper age limit on this kind of work. I would hate to see him hurt but hurting his pride is more ideal then seeing him slip over with a pot of boiling water.I hope the majority will k ow what I mean and not take my question as trying to ease someone out of work, he is a great colleague but has no real place in this high pressure kitchen. Before I get a comment saying “if he couldn’t do it, he would go” or “raise y with your employer” as all to no avail. I believe all I know is that if they say they want to work then they are allowed but their must be a line where enough is enough.anyways I’m not here to think of a new role for him, im wondering where law and health and safety stands on this ? Please please don’t tell me too look on council websites as they have no answer for upper age limits only on young ages.Any info would be appreciated as this is ongoing.

Our Response:
There are no upper age limits, as age is a number which is irrelevant where an employee has the capability to do his/her job properly. If, as you say, the employee doesn't have the capability to do their job properly, then under health and safety law, the primary responsibility for this is down the employer. However, employees and have important responsibilities too, see HSE link here and here. If you think your colleague cannot do his job properly, then you have no other alternative than to draw the attention of your employer to the matters that you think relevant. 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 . While you have requested not to be drawn to these links I have posted, there is no alternative answer. Otherwise, you are trying to seek an alternative answer that doesn't exist.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 23-Mar-18 @ 11:29 AM
Hello all, I will try to make this brief but have researched as much as possible before asking this, so no silly answers please. For the past 7 years I’ve worked in a commercial kitchen, the work is great but 2 years ago an elderly gentleman 66 years old was asked to be our head chef as he is somewhat a friend of the owner. Now all good for about a year, then we start to notice he’s coughing a lot more, struggling to lift and will not accept or show that he needs help. The food is always cooked but watching him do it can be painful, if not uncomfortable. As it’s awkward not being able to help him or have him take help I.e moving a 15kg bag of potatoes for example. (I know what most are thinking, don’t take work away from him, blah blah) however it must come to a point when your unable to keep doing the work as it happens this past 6 months he has been really rundown and to be blunt my employer will be offended should we raise this with them. I have scoured the internet and council websites to see if indeed there is an upper age limit on this kind of work. I would hate to see him hurt but hurting his pride is more ideal then seeing him slip over with a pot of boiling water. I hope the majority will k ow what I mean and not take my question as trying to ease someone out of work, he is a great colleague but has no real place in this high pressure kitchen. Before I get a comment saying “if he couldn’t do it, he would go” or “raise y with your employer” as all to no avail. I believe all I know is that if they say they want to work then they are allowed but their must be a line where enough is enough...anyways I’m not here to think of a new role for him, im wondering where law and health and safety stands on this ? Please please don’t tell me too look on council websites as they have no answer for upper age limits only on young ages. Any info would be appreciated as this is ongoing.
James - 22-Mar-18 @ 5:29 PM
Gemima - Your Question:
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.??

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 . However, you may also wish to read the terms and conditions of your employment contract and/or staff handbook which may make reference to this matter.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 16-Mar-18 @ 2:49 PM
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
Monique - Your Question:
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 awayWhat 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.

Our Response:
Your boyfriend would have to read the terms and conditions of his employment contract and/or the employees' handbook which will answer your question regarding this.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 19-Feb-18 @ 2:00 PM
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
Arch - Your Question:
My daughter who is 16years old works in a tearoom/restaurant at weekends & last Sunday she was serving some customers with a tray of 2 teapots of boiling tea & cups, the customers refused to move they’re plates for her to put the tray fully on the table but the tray was 3/4 on, they took the cups first which then led to both pots of tea tipping down onto my daughters feet&splashing back up to her lower legs, in particular the water spilling into her left shoe, she ran into the kitchen where the a first aider got her to put her feet in cold water, she rang me straight away & said to take her to hospital to get the burns treated which I did. Her left foot is badly scolded where she had severe burns&blisters which are being treated&re-dressed every day at hospital. Her boss even though entering the room where the first aider was treating her didn’t bother checking on her & had not made contact with her at all. I rang to say due to her injuries she would not be able to work mon&Tues this week & it’s looking like she’s not able to work this sat or sun either. Even though I can’t do anything about the lack of support or sympathy from the boss my Question is should she still get paid for the agreed days she’s unable to work due to this workplace injury? & does she need a doc certificate to be signed off from work? she’s seeing her GP nurse tomorrow. She’s worried about losing her pay due to not being able to work with this injury. Many thanks

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear that your daughter has been injured. She would have to read the terms and conditions of her employment contract to find out whether she is paid for time off or not. You can see more about when someone receives personal injuries in work via the CAB link here.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 16-Feb-18 @ 10:20 AM
My daughter who is 16years old works in a tearoom/restaurant at weekends & last Sunday she was serving some customers with a tray of 2 teapots of boiling tea & cups, the customers refused to move they’re plates for her to put the tray fully on the table but the tray was 3/4 on, they took the cups first which then led to both pots of tea tipping down onto my daughters feet&splashing back up to her lower legs, in particular the water spilling into her left shoe, she ran into the kitchen where the a first aider got her to put her feet in cold water, she rang me straight away & said to take her to hospital to get the burns treated which I did. Her left foot is badly scolded where she had severe burns&blisters which are being treated&re-dressed every day at hospital. Her boss even though entering the room where the first aider was treating her didn’t bother checking on her & had not made contact with her at all. I rang to say due to her injuries she would not be able to work mon&Tues this week & it’s looking like she’s not able to work this sat or sun either. Even though I can’t do anything about the lack of support or sympathy from the boss my Question is should she still get paid for the agreed days she’s unable to work due to this workplace injury? & does she need a doc certificate to be signed off from work? she’s seeing her GP nurse tomorrow. She’s worried about losing her pay due to not being able to work with this injury. Many thanks
Arch - 15-Feb-18 @ 4:41 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
Boss turned off hot water on my shift cause she was annoyed I put in my notice and told me to carry boiling water from the kettle upstairs to the sinks downstairs to clean. Boss asked another member of staff to use the mop bucket as the water vessel to clean the grill as the regular tub for the water was missing. The 16year olds that work there use the grill every day, is this okay?? Concerned!
Paul - 6-Feb-18 @ 1:21 PM
@Toni - that's not very professional. Your employer should really close the shop if the hot water has broken, not boil kettles as for one it is dangerous!
Mistyfx - 8-Jan-18 @ 11:27 AM
Hi I was wondering what the answer would be to working in a salon with the hot waterconstantlynot working? We are made to get boiling water from the staff room and carry over to the back wash to wash clients hair!
Toni - 7-Jan-18 @ 8:13 AM
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
Kathy- Your Question:
I volunteer at a soup kitchen is there a clothing regulation that says you can't wear sleeveless blouses?Thank youKathy

Our Response:
Yes, your employer can request you dress in a particular way, if is written into your contract. Your contract, and associated documents such as the staff handbook, may state that you need to dress in a certain manner, for health and safety reasons. I suspect your employer does not wish you to wear sleevless tops because of hot splashes from the soup which could burn your skin. But, to find this out you would have to read the terms of your contract.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 8-Aug-17 @ 2:51 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
Kras - Your Question:
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 difficult and strenuous,by the end of my day I feel very tired.is there a law please can you help.

Our Response:
Much depends upon the terms and conditions of your employment contract. This should explain your duties and what your employer expects you to do. If you are finding the situation difficult, you should speak to your employer directly. If your employer doesn't attempt to resolve the issues, then you can raise a grievance in writing, please see link here.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 31-Jul-17 @ 2:01 PM
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