There are a number of activities that take place specifically within the catering industry that are considered to be high risk and need to be considered in any health and safety compliance or training session. In particular:
• Boiling water and splashes from hot fat, especially where the cleaning and emptying of deep fat fryers is concerned;
• Slips, trips and falls, particularly where staff may be working on wet or tiled floors;
• Manual handling, particularly in the brewing industry where items such as large barrels of beer may be moved into and around cellars;
• Working in cellars and confined spaces;
• Working with knives and other sharp implements such as meat-slicing machinery;
• Gas safety in kitchens;
• Looking after hands and skin, particularly in relation to preventing contact dermatitis; and
• Food debris on floors.
In addition, there are other health and safety concerns to be considered within the catering industry. It is a criminal offence to render food injurious to health or sell food that is unfit for human consumption. Food can be rendered injurious to health by:
• adding any article or substance to food;
• using any article or substance as an ingredient in the preparation of food – e.g. adding caustic soda instead of baking powder to a product;
• taking out any constituent from a food; and/or
• subjecting the food to any other process or treatment.
In determining whether a food is injurious to health, regard has to be given to three issues:
• The probable immediate, short-term and/or long-term effects of that food on the health of consumer and subsequent generations;
• The probable cumulative toxic effects; and/or
• Particular sensitivities of certain consumers.
It is therefore of utmost importance that caterers put all reasonably practicable measure in place to safeguard the health and safety of both their own employees and the customers they serve.