A risk assessment isn’t just required by law - it’s also an important step towards protecting your team and providing a safe place to work. Kitchens are particularly hazardous workplaces so it’s vital that your assessments are thorough. Here’s a guide on conducting a kitchen safety risk assessment and the areas you need to cover.
Why are Risk Assessments Important?
Risk assessments outline the potential hazards present in your business and help you focus on those that have the potential to cause real harm to your employees. Then, you can begin to take the steps necessary to control them.
Carrying Out a Risk Assessment: Where to Start
You can conduct the assessment yourself or delegate the task to someone else (they can be from your team or a third party), but the business owner or employer holds responsibility.
Whoever conducts the assessment must:
- Be competent to do so. Specific qualifications or training aren’t required, but seek advice from OSHA EU (European Agency for Safety and Health at Work).
- Involve your entire team.
- Understand when specialist help might be needed if the risks are complex.
How to Conduct a Risk Assessment and What to Include
You need to:
- Identify the hazards.
- Identify who might be harmed and how.
- Evaluate the risks and decide on protective measures.
- Record your findings.
- Review and update your assessment.
A good starting point is to walk around your kitchen and note down any hazards. In a kitchen, some common hazards include slippery floors, burns from exposure to heat and sharp objects.
When you work in the same place everyday, it’s easy to overlook some hazards so these tips can help you identify them:
- Check manufacturers’ instructions - they usually outline hazards.
- Look back at your past accident and ill-health records.
- Consider non-routine operations, such as changes in production cycles.
- Think about long-term health hazards, such as exposure to chemical substances.
Now that you know what the hazards are, you need to think about how they might harm people. It’s a good idea to ask your team what they think the hazards are because they will offer a different perspective and might notice things that aren’t very obvious to you.
Look at the risk and consider whether you can get rid of it completely or reduce to a level where harm is very unlikely. Some steps you can take are:
- Trying a less risky method.
- Preventing access to the hazard.
- Organising work to reduce exposure to the hazard.
- Distributing protective equipment.
- Providing welfare facilities such as first aid.
- Consulting with workers.
Write down your significant findings, including the hazards, how people might be harmed and the preventative measures you have in place. Recording your findings means it’s much easier to review it at a later date - for example, if laws change or your business expands.
Workplaces rarely stay the same. More often than not, you’ll be bringing in changes - from new team members to new equipment and procedures. That can produce new hazards, which is why you need to review and update your risk assessment on an ongoing basis. Your records should always be up to date.
- Whether there have been any significant changes.
- Whether there are any improvements you need to make.
- Whether your workers have noticed an issue.
- What you’ve learnt from any past accidents or near misses.
How to Instill a General Level of Respect to Safety
There’s little point in having safety procedures in place, no matter how robust they are, if no-one follows them. That’s why you need to establish a general level of respect to safety among your workforce.
Do this by:
- Exerting good leadership skills. Show your team that you’re a good leader by being confident, passionate, making proactive decisions, and knowing when to reward or encourage your workers.
- Boosting team morale as a happy workforce means a more cooperative one.
- Providing your team with personal protective equipment (PPE) to complement the safety measures. For example, slip-resistant safety shoes protect your workers’ feet from hazards such as falling, sharp objects and slippery floors. By showing that you’re trying to make your team feel better at work, they’ll be motivated to work harder (meaning boosted team morale).
Investing in Non Slip Shoes is One Way to Create a Safe Kitchen
Risk is a part of everyday life and you’re not expected to eradicate every case. But you do need to be aware of them and manage them as responsibly as possible. One way to start nurturing a safe working environment for your kitchen staff is to invest in slip-resistant shoes. There are various safety features you need to look out for, so download our Buying Guide and make sure you stay up to speed.