Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Health and Safety Failures in Catering Could Become More Expensive

UK Employers have a responsibility to protect their workers from accidents and injury while they are doing their jobs and equally employees must take care to carry out tasks in a safe manner.
The process of ensuring safe working practices and environments is regulated by the Health and Safety Executive and this is also the body that investigates any accidents that may have happened.
From October 1 2012 new legislation will be in force that will make it even more important to employers to ensure their Health and Safety practises are carried out, monitored and enforced as carefully as possible, because the cost of not doing so will fall on them.
The new rules permit the HSE to charge businesses for any investigation, reports and enforcement action it may carry out if an accident happens at a workplace. At a rate of £124 an hour this is something employers cannot afford to ignore.
An employer must ensure that equipment and the working environment is as safe as possible and to ensure that employees are given proper training in working safely, protective equipment and clothing if their job requires it.
Extraction systems are often part of the safety equipment that is needed in many working environments, for example where a process involves potentially hazardous fumes or duct being inhaled.
Canopy and extraction systems are generally a part of any large-scale catering kitchen and are normally placed directly over the cookers to help extract steam and the oils and particles dissolved in them to keep the kitchen environment as clean and dry as possible.
However, such systems are only as efficient as the maintenance and cleaning can make them and therefore a regular schedule of canopy and extract cleaning is an important part of the Health and Safety process.
Kitchen fires are a major hazard in the catering industry and frequently the seat of the fire is found on investigation to have been in the extract system. The reason for this is that ductwork is an ideal place for dust and debris to settle and also because oils of various types are part of the cooking process and therefore any air extracted through filters and into the system is likely to contain dissolved oil or grease.
Professional canopy and filter cleaning services can ensure that the filters do not become clogged and are replaced as often as needed, depending on the normal work pattern of the kitchen, how frequently meals are cooked and of what type of food.
Once the new HSE charges are in operation any investigation, particularly of fires, is likely to include requests to see evidence of a kitchen extract and canopy cleaning regime and an inability to provide such records is likely to add to the costs of dealing with any injury to employees or damage to the building or equipment.

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