Fires in kitchens are a common occurrence, and they can have potentially devastating effects on your business and yourself. Restaurants have open flames, hot equipment, electrical connections, chemicals, paper products and so much more; commercial kitchens are the breeding ground for deadly fires and extra measures need to be taken to avoid fatal disasters. Here’s how to prevent kitchen fires in your workplace.
While fires are a common hazard in the kitchen workplace, they are still preventable and if the correct steps are taken beforehand, your workplace could prove to be safe to work in - here are four ways to prevent kitchen fires in your workplace:
1. Proper & Regular Staff Training
2. Maintain Proper Cleanliness
3. Complete Regular Risk Assessments
4. Wear Proper Clothing
These four measures, if executed properly, will help to make sure the only fires in your restaurant are inside a flaming sambuca shot glass and not inside your kitchen. Here’s a more thorough look into each piece of advice.
1. Invest In Adequate Staff Training
It’s simple; if staff are trained beforehand, then they’ll know the correct steps to take to ensure a fire either doesn’t start, or doesn’t get out of control. If training isn’t provided, then their own lives are in danger and in turn, everyone else in the establishment could also be affected. So, regular training should be stressed and emphasised constantly, and should be compulsory for every staff member taken on board.
Smoking habits need to be taken into account too. Staff can’t be stopped from smoking when they are on a break, but they need to ensure that that are not causing a hazard. They should be told to go to a safe place to smoke, and dispose of ends safely once finished.
If needed, remind staff of the basics too, such as not leaving food unattended or keep access to fire blankets clear at all times. Once bad habits set in, there’s always the risk they’ll one day be fatal.
Types of equipment in a kitchen workplace can also be a fire hazard, such as wood or charcoal burning ovens. If that’s the case, then staff should be trained to remove piles of ash at least once a day, while safely storing the ash in metal containers away from the building before disposing of it. And those who aren’t trained should not be tasked with using the equipment.
You should also be aware of evacuation procedures, as well as the usage of fire safety equipment, such as fire extinguishers, so you and staff know how to use them when and if the time comes. Using shortcuts such as the PAST technique is a good way of keeping the training fresh and it can also grow fire fighting abilities.
2. Maintain Cleanliness At All Times
Maintaining cleanliness in your workplace kitchen can also link to staff training, as they should be taught about the possible dangers when the area isn’t clean.
Grease build-up is a common issue in the kitchen and you should look to clean all remnants of grease from every surface, as this will prevent air-flow restriction depending on what you’re cleaning. Grease is rampant in plenty of kitchens, but a strict cleaning schedule could combat that, along with checking ovens, grills, fryers and so on, to prevent fires from igniting.
Keeping your kitchen work space tidy also means you need to store away flammable liquids safely, in tightly sealed containers, in areas which are well-ventilated. Other fire hazards should also be tidied up, such as storing away paper products and boxes from heat and cooking sources, while chemical solutions should also be used properly.
Another important factor to take into account is that walking lanes need to be kept clear. While so much focus goes into keeping equipment and surfaces clean, garbage often goes unnoticed and accumulates at a rapid rate. If walking lanes aren’t kept clear, then there’s danger of dropping equipment or falling over - especially if there is a fire and you need to get to your closest fire escape.
3. Conduct Risk Assessments
Risk assessments are required by law, so there’s no escaping this procedure and there should be no excuses down the line if a fire does eventually does take place because of carelessness. With fires, prevention is better than cure, so bringing in a qualified risk assessor ensures that your workplace is either safe to work in, or they’d point out the dangers which you need to correct before any work can be done there.
According to the Health and Safety Executive, the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR) requires employers to assess the risk of fires and explosions arising from work activities involving dangerous substances, and to eliminate or reduce the risks, so a risk assessment could actually be the first, major step in preventing fires.
Undertaking a risk assessment also means that you’re able to keep on top of fire prevention equipment, such as knowing how many fire extinguishers you may need on the premises, planning fire escapes, along with ensuring smoke alarms and suppression systems are fully functioning.
A risk assessment can also lead on to other fire prevention tactics, as it can help you plan a regular schedule for equipment maintenance; keeping an eye out for frayed wiring or cords, or even broken switch plates and combustible items near power sources.
4. Research Appropriate Clothing (and make it a requirement).
Believe it or not, the clothing you wear in a kitchen can prevent fires so appropriate clothing at your workplace could be the difference between staying safe and putting out an eventual fire.
While wearing a uniform in a kitchen is a way to look professional and presentable, extra measures are taken to ensure the materials are safe to wear around flames, but there are still some risks to consider.
Wearing long, flowing sleeves over a burning flame is a recipe for disaster. The sleeves are bound to catch fire, so this should be avoided at all costs, especially since scalding is one of the most common injuries which means you’d be avoiding two big hazards. Synthetic clothing is also a fire hazard as it can potentially melt on your skin if it catches on fire, so opting for a different material is a much safer route, such as chef jackets featuring cotton buttons instead of plastic.
There are always spills in a kitchen because of the fast-paced environment; there’s always something going on and somebody might overlook or forget to clean up a spill. If you’re walking past a burning stove and slip, you may accidentally knock something over which could ignite a much larger fire.
With non-slip footwear, you’d be preventing fires beforehand as you won’t be in any danger of knocking equipment over to create a hazard.
Want to Know How to Stay Safe On Your Feet?
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