Restaurant sector warned over kitchen slip-ups

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Bars, restaurants, cafes and hotels are being urged not to take the ‘glass half-full’ approach to health and safety or they could find themselves staring at a hefty fine or prosecution.

The Gauntlet Group, which provides consultancy services to food and drink outlets nationwide, says many businesses believe they will be among the 50% of workplaces that don’t have ‘slips, trips and fall’, ‘repetitive hand or arm movement’ and ‘working in a tiring and painful position’ risks, rather than being part of the 50% that do. Gauntlet says this can catch them out.

Over-optimism can be the weakness of many a business, leading to reduced concentration on health and safety procedures and good practice.  In busy, customer-focused environments, it is easy to overlook the need to keep health and safety documents up-to-date, whilst also ensuring risks are reduced, by following the procedures laid out in health and safety documentation.

Foodservice is one of the sectors that ranks highly for injuries in the workplace, whether that is due to slipping in the kitchen, getting burnt during service, or even receiving an electric shock from a piece of poorly maintained equipment.

Eateries often fail to address the use of chemical substances used for cleaning, or consider how employees with asthma may be affected by flour used in baking and food preparation.

Falling foul of health and safety legislation is not advisable, says Gauntlet. There were 727 prosecutions for breaches of health and safety regulations in 2014/15 and a 94% success rate when it came to convictions. Businesses were fined a total of £19m and 12,450 enforcement notices were also issued by enforcing authorities.

Additionally, injuries to workers led to 4.1 million working days being lost, with the average time taken off work by someone who had incurred an injury being 6.7 days, whilst 19 is the average for an employee who develops ill health.  An injury in the workplace can soon upset the staff rota.

Gauntlet director, Ian McCarron, says: “Too many employers think they won’t be caught out by an unsafe working environment and believe their workplace to be free of risks that statistics clearly show many are not.  Additionally, they fail to recognise that the HSE has a means through which members of staff can become ‘whistleblowers’, using an online form to highlight their concerns about safety in their workplace.

“Many employers gamble when it comes to their risks and fail to act to reduce these to lower the probability of accidents occurring.  We would urge bars, restaurants, cafes and hotels to not ignore the need for good health and safety procedures and to call in an expert to help them handle these. Creating and implementing a good health and safety policy, can ensure that a business avoids potential prosecution.”

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