Now that the festive season is over and the pressure of the last few weeks to get all the extra food in, find space to store it and make sure that what got cooked met with a myriad of dietary requirements, this will have put extra strain on our kitchen staff and the equipment used.
With the New Year upon us, let us start with a clean slate! What a great time to get back in the kitchen, have a good clean up and put our health and social care premises back in order.
What Do I Need to be Aware of in a Kitchen Environment?
The kitchen, as well as being busy, can be a dangerous environment if the right control measures are not in place. A list of hazards could be:
- Gas hobs – check the pipes are not damaged, gaps in the rings where there is no flame, make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector
- Kitchen ventilation grills – check they are not blocked with a build-up of grease – this could be a fire hazard
- Knives – kitchen knives are sharp and can cut skin – don’t leave them lying around, put them away when finished with
- Slippery floors – if food falls on the floor or you spill something, get it cleaned up straight away to prevent someone slipping and falling on a hard surface
- Kitchen worktops and cupboards – check they are in good condition and there are no sharp edges – units should be stainless steel and edges rounded
- Workflow – this will be part of your “Safe Food Better Business” and integral to your HACCP plan (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) – I’ll pick up on this later
- Chemicals – cleaning chemicals must be stored separately away from food products
- Aches and pains – you need to take care of your body, ensure correct lifting technique, rotate the workflow – cutting carrots for hours on end will put a strain on your bones and joints, your skin can get dry so make sure you treat it with care to avoid dermatitis
What is Workflow?
Having your kitchen workflow in place can make you work more efficiently; it ensures that the environment is safer and the likelihood of accidents reduced. In an ideal kitchen, the food delivery comes in at one end and the finished meals are at the other end. This cycle ensures that cross-contamination is unlikely to occur and that kitchen staff don’t cross each other’s paths. The typical workflow would be:
- Ensuring your hands are clean and whites are on before you enter the main kitchen area
- Delivery vehicle arrives and food goods are put in storage (larder, fridges and freezers etc.)
- A designated area with sinks for preparing food – separate vegetables from dairy, meat and fish
- Kitchen knives and utensils close by – food prep only
- Cooking area
- Hot holding area and plating up
- Pot wash area
As with all areas of work which have significant hazards, there is a requirement under The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 section 3 for:
‘Every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of—
(a) the risks to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work; and
(b) the risks to the health and safety of persons not in his employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct by him of his undertaking’
A risk assessment considers the likelihood of a hazard and the consequences should that hazard occur. It considers what existing control measures are in place, and what further measures may be needed to ensure the level of risk is as Low As Reasonably Practicable (LARP).
What Key Things Should be in a Kitchen
In a care home, the following should be displayed or available:
- Health and Safety Law Poster – must be filled in and displayed
- Insurance Certificate – must be displayed and in date
- Food Hygiene i.e. 4 stars/ 5 stars etc – must be displayed
- Level 2 Food hygiene certificates, Level 3 for supervisors (must be in date)
- First Aid Certificates (must be in date)
- Waste Carriers Licence (must be in date)
- Safer Food Better Business folder – completed and up to date (cleaning schedules, temperature checks, delivery checks (remember stock rotation FIFO) etc.
- HACCP system displayed
- First Aid kit and accident book (suitable for kitchens, including burns kits) – away from food prep areas
- Extinguishers – if you do not have a sprinkler system
- Planned and routine maintenance programme i.e: ventilation – cooker hoods, servicing of cookers, mixers, etc.
- Colour coded chopping boards and knives
- Kitchen whites, hair nets, oven gloves etc.
- Changing area for staff (before entering the kitchen)
- Welfare facilities
- Separate storage area for chemicals and colour coded mops etc.
- Food waste bins (external location)
- Designated external smoking area (whites must be taken off before entering this area!)
What Does the Law Require?
The 2 key pieces of legislation are the general duties of The Health and Safety At Work etc Act 1974 section 2 which includes:
- Safe plant and systems of work
- Safe handling, storage and transport of articles and substances
- Provision of information, instruction, training and supervision
- Safe access and egress
- Safe working environment including arrangements for welfare facilities
In a kitchen, the other requirements are The Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013. This lays out the standards expected of a commercial kitchen which would include care homes and also the power of inspectors in section 6 (Hygiene Improvement notices) & section 7. (Hygiene Prohibition orders).
- MyHACCP online tool (FSA) https://www.food.gov.uk/enforcement/enforcework/food-law/guidance-enforcement/myhaccp-guidance
- Ventilation in catering kitchens (HSE) http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/cais10.pdf
- Safe use of knives in a kitchen (HSE) http://www.hse.gov.uk/catering/knives.htm
- Work-related contact dermatitis (HSE) http://www.hse.gov.uk/catering/dermatitis.htm
- Slips and trips (HSE) http://www.hse.gov.uk/catering/slips.htm
- Catering and Hospitality Frequently asked questions (HSE) http://www.hse.gov.uk/catering/faqs.htm
- The application of food hygiene legislation to domiciliary care, assisted living and care homes (The Food Standards Agency) https://www.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/multimedia/pdfs/enforcement/guidance-domiciliary-care.pdf