Inspections raise concerns about commercial kitchen safety
A WorkSafe Western Australia (WorkSafe WA) proactive inspection program looking at safety issues in commercial kitchens in workplaces has raised concerns. The program took place throughout the 2019/20 financial year, focusing on kitchens in cafes, food courts and accommodation premises in metropolitan and regional areas of Western Australia. Inspectors from the Retail & Service Industries Team concentrated on the priority areas of manual tasks; electricity; slips, trips and falls; and the use of hazardous substances.
Inspectors also considered safety issues relating to new and young workers, maintenance of first aid facilities, fire precautions, emergency egress, burns protection, air temperature, guarding of meat slicers and the provision of appropriate personal protective equipment. Inspectors visited 141 workplaces and issued 479 Improvement Notices and two Prohibition Notices, which related to moving hot oil from a deep fryer and using a milk crate as a step stool. WorkSafe Director Sally North said that although the most common injuries in commercial kitchens include cuts from knives and other tools, and muscular stress injuries, the inspection program highlighted some other concerns.
“The highest number of notices issued during this inspection program related to the assessment of hazardous substances in the workplace, while the next most common notice related to the provision of information and training to employees, followed by the lack of a register. The types of hazardous substances that needed to be assessed included a variety of cleaning products such as caustic oven cleaners,” North said.
North noted that a concerning number of notices were issued relating to fire precautions and evacuation procedures.
“This inspection program has also raised concerns with the provision of information and training to kitchen workers, particularly new and young workers. There are large numbers of young workers in commercial kitchens, along with a high turnover of staff, so providing appropriate training can be inconvenient but it must be done,” North said.
The inspection program aims to raise awareness and provide information to employers and employees, to help them comply with workplace safety and health laws. However, North warns that if inspectors find that employers are flouting the laws, they will take enforcement action.
“We firmly believe that raising the safety awareness of everyone in the workplace is the best way in which to lessen the risk of work-related injury and illness, and we will continue to monitor commercial kitchens to ensure they improve safety management standards,” North said.
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