HSE allays kitchen poisoning fears with charcoal grill guidance

Country Choice is a UK supplier of in-store bakery and retail foodservice products.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has published its first formal guidance on the safe use of solid fuel appliances such as charcoal ovens in commercial kitchens.

Issued as ‘Catering Information Sheet 26’, the publication addresses methods for preventing exposure to carbon monoxide from the use of such equipment.

As well as charcoal grills, which are becoming increasingly popular in restaurants, the guidance is aimed specifically at operators who use tandoori ovens and wood-fired pizza ovens.

It addresses the risks of exposure to carbon monoxide gas for workers as well as members of the public and outlines how they can be protected and what the law says.

“The risk to workers is well-known but there have also been reports of carbon monoxide exposure involving members of the public,” states the HSE. “These cases involved exposure in domestic properties neighbouring commercial catering premises using solid fuel appliances.”

The HSE suggests the positioning of the appliance in the kitchen or restaurant environment is an important factor.

“When deciding where to site your solid fuel appliance, consider where fresh air is going to enter the room,” its guidance states. “Avoid areas where there is slow-moving or stagnant air. If the appliance is suitable for use under a canopy, ensure that the products of combustion can be effectively and safely removed (i.e. the canopy is not so high that it does not collect the combustion gases), and that monitoring equipment is in place to warn of any danger from products of combustion.”

The guidance also provides details on the correct installation, ventilation and maintenance procedures for solid fuel equipment.

Given that carbon monoxide gas can build up very quickly and people can be overcome without warning, the HSE says that operators should fit a functioning audible carbon monoxide alarm complying with BS EN 50291 and have procedures in place to deal with evacuation if it goes off.

We will be looking at the full implications of the new guidance in the coming issue of FEJ so if you have a view on this topic, please get in touch.

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