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.

A catering assistant suffered severe burns to her back after emptying oil from a fryer that was hot enough to melt the plastic bucket receptacle that she was using – investigators estimate that the oil was at least 100’c – the oil spilled over onto the floor and she slipped onto her back.

The key factor was that the fryer had been replaced three months before the incident with a model that did not contain an integral filter and fat collector. This minor adjustment to the fryer meant that the oil was able to come into contact with the employee, and training was not provided to relevant staff upon installation of the new equipment.

An investigation into the incident revealed these issues, including a general lack of safe systems of work in relation to staff training each other and not always following controls set out within risk assessments.

The outcome of the court case was that the supermarket was fined £16,000 and had to pay costs of £9,500. They have since provided a new fat transfer and filtration unit to ensure safe emptying of the deep fat fryers can occur.

Kendon Safety can assist your company with a competency and training assessment for all employees.  Suitable training significantly reduces the risk of harm to your workforce.

Christabel Thorpe Tavares


Kendon Safety


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