Slips and trips guidance for the food and catering industry

“I don’t like looking back. I’m always constantly looking forward,” says celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsay. Clearly, the Hell’s Kitchen frontman has the right attitude for working in the food and catering industry. Forward thinking is the cornerstone of creating a healthy and safe environment in the catering industry.

While things may not always be harmonious in Ramsay’s kitchen, you can be fairly sure that his ‘constantly looking forward’ mantra includes good planning to meet health and safety regulations. And that’s bound to include measures to prevent slips and trips.

We recently discussed slips and trips guidance for employers with a view to reducing the amount of accidents in the workplace and, as a result, the scope for personal injury claims. This time round, we’ll specifically looks at slips and trips guidance for the food and catering industry.

The food and catering industry is a significant part of the UK economy employing more than 2 million people. In every kitchen, however, there are potential hazards that must be carefully assessed to ensure that employees operate in a safe environment.

The truth about accidents in the food and catering industry

Slips and trips are the most common cause of major accidents in the workplace. The estimated cost to society for slips, trips and falls in the workplace is in excess of £800 million according to the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE). In simple human terms, it’s also the source of a great deal of personal suffering and severe injuries that can cause long-term disability. To get an idea of the level of compensation associated with workplace injuries, it’s worth taking a look at our personal injury calculator! With so many people exposed to risk every day, the food and catering industry is no stranger to major accidents, which can result in claims for compensation.

So where are the risks in the food and catering industry?

According to HSE, there are a number of areas that need to be considered – with proper safety measures and staff training put in place. These include:

  • Carrying hot oil – always follow manufacturer’s instructions when emptying deep fat fryers
  • Food spills – it’s essential to clean up food spillages as soon as they happen
  • Water overflows or leaks – water dripping onto floors can create a serious hazard so leaks should be fixed immediately
  • Floors in poor condition – damaged and uneven floor surfaces area  frequent source of slips and trips and must be highlighted to staff and fixed as soon as possible
  • Trip hazards – unexpected obstacles cause trips and falls so make sure obstacles are removed from work areas
  • Cleaning – wet and dirty floors are the cause of most accidents so cleaning should be done at the right time using the right products and equipment

Remember prevention is always better than cure, so it makes sense to frequently carry out a risk assessment for your workplace and to regularly check with staff to make sure safety procedures are being followed.

Simple preventative measures can make all the difference. These include:

  • Maintaining equipment to prevent any leaks
  • Having a system to report any equipment faults
  • Using splashguards or edged work surfaces
  • Always covering pots and pans with their lids
  • Having good extraction and ventilation
  • Using drainage channels and drip trays
  • Preventing water from being walked into the kitchen

It’s not just the actions of employers and employees that can help prevent accidents. There are also workplace design features that can help prevent slips and trips. Here are some examples:

  • Make sure floors have good grip
  • Check that steps, slopes and changes are level
  • Limit any distractions
  • Ensure visibility at all times

What’s the way forward?

Looking to the future and creating a clear plan means that even when things get hectic in the kitchen, slips and trips can be avoided. After all, it’s usually bad practice that causes accidents. As an employer, it’s your responsibility to put the right safety measures in place. However, it is also the responsibility of employees to ensure they watch out for any evident risks and report them as soon as possible.

Good training is essential to maintain a high standard in health and safety practices so it makes sense to ‘constantly look forward’ to ensure you avoid accidents happening in the future. And, of course, if you have any questions about personal injuries, just ask!