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5 common safety hazards in the hospitality industry

Chef in the kitchen putting out a 'caution wet floor' sign, taken from iHASCO's food safety and hygiene course.

The consequences of the Coronavirus on the hospitality industry have been particularly hard-hitting. Now lockdown restrictions are easing, many food businesses and hotels have reopened in line with the government roadmap and are beginning to serve customers so they can be up and running for the summer months ahead. Having no doubt spent a long time meticulously planning a reopening (again!), including Covid-19 risk assessments and creating new Covid-secure policies, it is important not to overlook the other common safety hazards that must be taken into account, alongside the management of Covid-19 risks.

Even before the pandemic hotels, pubs and restaurants were familiar with managing the common everyday health and safety risks to their employees and customers. Controlling these risks is part of working within this industry. We take a brief look at some of the most common safety hazards for those that work in the hospitality industry.

#1. Slips, trips & falls

Businesses in the hospitality sector have many operational challenges, especially when they are at capacity. You will not be surprised to know that slips, trips and falls are among the most common causes of injury in this industry, particularly among chefs and waiting staff. Food spillages, wet floors and trip hazards all contribute to this. Blocked walkways, and waiting staff rushing to serve tables can all act as hazards. These risks must be managed to help reduce this type of accident. Good housekeeping, appropriate footwear, cleaning up spills and good lighting are all practical measures which can be taken to avoid slips, trips and falls.

#2. Injury from incorrect manual handling 

In the hospitality environment, it is highly likely that staff will need to handle heavy items at times, such as tables, deliveries, luggage, full pots and piles of plates. This can lead to musculoskeletal injuries if they are handled incorrectly. For example, chefs, cleaners, and waiting staff need to understand how to minimise the health risks associated with manual handling. Correct lifting and carrying techniques should be followed, along with using mechanical aids where possible to move heavy loads. 

#3. Hazardous chemicals

Hazardous chemicals can be found in cleaning agents but they also include less obvious substances such as carbon dioxide gas. Commercial kitchens use many cleaning agents and it is commonplace in hospitality for pressurised gas to be used for dispensing drinks. Certain rules must be followed when handling hazardous substances and employees must be able to recognise the common hazard symbols and use PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). The aim of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) is to minimise the risk of becoming unwell from exposure to harmful substances. 

#4. Fires

Kitchens pose a greater risk of fire, due to the use of gas, naked flames and other flammable substances. Ensuring staff understand how fire spreads, how to tackle it and understanding emergency procedures will help to keep them safe in the event of a fire. Although most fires are avoidable, so make sure staff are prepared and follow procedures, which will help prevent a fire in the first place. Fire awareness is vital.

#.5 Mental ill-health

Those who work in hospitality are used to long hours in a fast-paced environment. The role can often be pressured and stressful, which can contribute to mental ill-health. You can read more about mental ill-health in hospitality in our blog here. It is important to recognise mental health on an equal footing with physical health. Mental health awareness and wellbeing is thankfully being taken more seriously in the workplace, and businesses are recognising the importance of supporting employees in this area.

The role of training

Proactive health and safety management is key, as it sets good habits and will help ensure even at busier times staff can do their job safely. The best way to support your staff and meet your legal obligations is to provide engaging workplace health, safety and wellbeing training. iHASCO offers a range of suitable online training courses for the hospitality industry, and we even provide a cost-effective bundle for businesses wishing to create a returning to work training plan. You can set up a free trial for any courses that are of interest. 

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