Kenco Cappuccino 10/19

Putting Safety First

As an employer you are responsible for the health and safety of your staff – however small your business.

Health and safety law is essential, so this means you have to take the necessary precautions to provide a safe working environment and reduce danger risks in the workplace. “The biggest mistakes that caterers can make is thinking that either an accident won’t happen to them, or believing that health and safety is costly and time consuming,” explains a spokesperson for the Health and Safety Executive. “Most accidents can be prevented by good management and supervision combined with effective training, which makes accident prevention no different from any other aspect of running a successful business. Health and safety is about knowing
the risks and managing them. A lot of it is simply common sense.”

What you should do?

  • Prepare a statement of safety policy for your organisation and arrangements for achieving the policy’s aims (written if you employ more than four people)
  • Consult employees through safety representatives if your workplace is unionised, or through employee representatives or directly if it is not
  • Appoint someone competent to assist you with health and safety
  • Assess which workplace risks are significant and make effective arrangements to control these
  • Carry out health surveillance where appropriate (in catering, for dermatitis or musculoskeletal risks if present)
  • Set up emergency procedures including those for temporary workers (in catering these are only likely to be for fire and gas leaks)
  • Inform and train employees on the risks present and the arrangements in place to control them by visiting

Stay Sharp

Accidents with knives are very common, so minimise the risk by:

  • Train employees how to sharpen knives correctly
  • Always cut on stable surfaces
  • Keep knives sharp
  • Handle carefully when washing up
  • Carry with blade pointing downwards
  • Don’t leave knives loose on worktops where they can be accidentally pushed off
  • Never catch a falling knife, never carry one in your pocket or whilst carrying other objects

Flaky skin

Skin disease – dermatitis – can be one of the main causes of ill health for catering staff, so:

  • Avoid contact with cleaning products, food and water where possible, e.g. use a dishwasher rather than washing up by hand, use utensils rather than hands to handle food
  • Wear gloves where possible to help protect your skin and moisturise your hands often
  •  Check hands for early stages, such as itchy, dry or red skin

Pains in the neck

Many tasks in the kitchen, such as carrying or picking up heavy items can cause back and shoulder pain, and muscoskeletor disorders are common.

  • Train staff in proper lifting techniques and use of handling aids
  • Raise awareness of the risks to reduce the likelihood of injuries in the future
  • Early detection and reporting of aches and pains is crucial


Chefs, kitchen assistants and waiting staff are the biggest sufferers of major accidents caused by slips and trips, with hundreds reported each year, according to the government’s Health and Safety Executive.

  • Make sure staff are vigilant and clean up any spilled substance
  • Turn off taps and fix leaks quickly to avoid slippy floors
  • Ensure cleaning happens at the right time and in the correct manner – not during busy service
  • Fix a faulty floor straight away to avoid trips, and make sure boxes, bags and cables are stored correctly so they don’t trip up staff
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