Addressing musculoskeletal conditions within the catering industry…backs and reducing the likelihood of ill health from repetitive minor injury

Addressing musculoskeletal conditions within the catering industry…backs and reducing the likelihood of ill health from repetitive minor injury

Working within the catering industry can result in a number of musculoskeletal conditions that can affect the back, hands, neck and legs. They are often caused by repetitive, forceful tasks, and/or poor posture whilst performing such tasks; lifting heavy loads can also cause issues in the longer-term.

There are a number of ways that management can help to reduce the risks of employees developing musculoskeletal disorders. In order for this to be deemed suitable and sufficient in the eyes of the law, the hierarchy of control measures must be followed. The hierarchy of control measures require an employer to eliminate a risk activity wherever possible. This can be as simple as ordering smaller boxes to reduce the size and weight to carry, arranging storage to prevent the need for lifting and providing lifting aids and trolleys where possible. The residual activities of the task must then be subject to a risk assessment – drawing out the detail of the task to address specific areas of risk, and adopting suitable control measures. The risk assessment should use the MAC tool provided by the Health and Safety Executive if it includes manual handling tasks, such as pushing, pulling, lifting or carrying. Continue reading

Work Equipment and Staff Competency – Know the pitfalls

Work Equipment and Staff Competency – Know the pitfalls

The Provision and use of Work Equipment Regulations and their applicability within the catering industry.

All work equipment whether manual or mechanised will fall under the Work Equipment Regulations 1998. This requires an employer to ensure that all machinery and tools provided are suitable for use, and that the people using them have received training in their correct operation.  Even very simple equipment within minimal operational requirements can pose a significant risk if procedures stipulated by the manufacturer are not communicated to staff.

One such example of this was when a supermarket was taken to court after failing to ensure that their workers had access to appropriate equipment for safely emptying deep fat fryers, in line with the requirements of the equipment design. Continue reading

Dermatitis in Catering – is your employer doing enough?

Dermatitis in Catering – is your employer doing enough?

Dermatitis in the Catering Industry – do you know a sufferer? Is your employer doing enough?

Dermatitis is a skin condition that is caused by skin irritants and results in red, sore, dry and even cracked skin that can become infected and painful if not treated correctly.
This is can occur frequently in people who work within the catering industry due to the cleaning agents that are used and contact with water, as well as some food stuffs that can result in allergic reactions. As an employer, there is a duty to manage the risks posed to all employees, as detailed under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and expanded in the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002. Health surveillance is also necessary for staff where dermatitis is present.

With allergic reactions, the exact cause can be difficult to diagnose. It is important that the employer does not adopt generic management strategies for dermatitis without monitoring the outcomes, believing that this is suitable and sufficient.

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Preventing slips and falls in the catering industry

Preventing slips and falls in the catering industry

Slips and falls are accidents that can be generally be prevented with appropriate safe systems of work and careful management. However, it is possible for very significant and costly injuries to occur without adequate consideration.

A recent case involved a chef that slipped over due to unsuitable floor surfaces and debris on the kitchen floor. He suffered severe burns on his arms, hands and face when he reached out to regain his balance, but instead plunged his arm into boiling hot oil. The chef had to have surgery and spent five months off work.
An investigation into the incident discovered that there was an issue with water collecting on the floor around the dishwasher, steamers and vegetable prep area; there was also an issue with the flooring being unsuitable for the kitchen environment – it was confirmed that these problems had been regularly highlighted by the staff, yet the employer had done nothing to rectify the situation.

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