To highlight the importance of employee training, the following article defines the risks faced when a strategy for staff training has not been clearly defined and implemented within an organisation.
A Kent-based tyre company was fined £1 million after pleading guilty to breaching sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 that led to safety failings that caused the death of a 21 year old tyre worker. The incident took place on company premises when the individual was carrying out repairs on the tyre of a ‘dresser loading shovel’ when it exploded and killed him.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that he was not properly qualified or competent enough in this particular area of expertise to be completing these repairs safety. The equipment provided was also inadequate.
In August 2014, an incident took place at a school in Canterbury that highlights the seriousness of this issue. The school was running a summer camp for local children and during one of the swimming sessions, a seven-year-old boy got into difficulty whilst in the water. It took approximately three minutes for the lifeguards to notice that he was in distress, they then removed him from the water and performed CPR. As a result of the incident, the young boy developed a condition called pneumonitis, which is inflammation of the lung tissue.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive concluded that the lifeguards were not effectively managed by the employer to ensure that they were fulfilling their duties as lifeguards. In this instance, the employees were not properly vigilant whilst on duty, which resulted in the incident that took place. It was also discovered that two of the three lifeguards on duty at the time did not hold current, up-to-date lifeguard qualifications. The school was taken to court where it pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974; it was fined £18,000 and had to pay £9,669.19 in costs.
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
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 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.
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.